Empowering Writers

January 2015 Lesson of the Month

Everyone is concerned about close reading, and writing in response to close reading. The literary analysis tasks showing up on the latest state tests all involve this kind of deep strategic reading and writing. EW has always stressed close strategic reading through our annotation and analysis lessons, empowering students to identify genre, author’s purpose, and the range of authors’ craft and powerful language that brings writing to life.

Too often we think of close reading and powerful writing as being distinct from one another. In reality, the act of writing actually shapes thinking. The author must prioritize and sequence material, thus clarifying her/his own thinking in the process. Good writing equates to clear thinking, and vice versa. If students can learn the art of “close reading” they will use this skill to help compose logical, artful writing. The connections between reading, writing, and comprehension are too numerous to count.

The downloadable lesson we’ve included here is taken from the second edition of our Comprehensive Expository Writing Guide. It includes instruction in text conventions that aid in reading and that serve to emphasize the organizational framework of an expository text. Students are asked to annotate the text, through a series of guiding questions. They must read with an editorial eye, picking up the cues from text elements such as headings, captions, italicized text, boldfaced print, photographs, etc.

This is a skill that can easily be applied to any magazine or online articles that students read. There is also a huge carry-over into text books. When beginning a new unit of study students can earn how to skim and scan, easily picking out the topic, main ideas, and key words necessary for understanding.

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