Close Reading Strategy

If you are struggling with comprehension in general or just with a particular text, the following strategy could help. It’s designed to get readers to do on paper what many stronger readers do naturally in their head. That being said, even if you are a strong reader, these strategies could help you deal with complex texts.

1. Chunk the text. Divide the reading into smaller chunks. These chunks could be each stanza for a poem or every few paragraphs for prose. It’s better if this is not done randomly, but at divisions that sort of make sense.
2.  Underline and circle with a purpose. Underline main ideas and key phrases. Ciricle key words; strong verbs; repeated words or phrases; important names, places, and dates; etc.
3. Summarize each chunk. In ten words or less, summarize what’s happening in that section.​ It’s recommended to write this in the left margin. Also, draw a simple picture that illustrates the main idea.
4. For each chunk, write in one word what the author is doing. In other words, “informing,” “persuading,” “proving,” “describing,” “complaining,” “questioning,” “explaining,” etc.
5. Ask and answer the “5 Ws and How” (who, what, when, where, why and how) for each section. If you can’t answer them, re-read to get the answers.

Video Book Review [Bonus]

For this bonus assignment, students from English I, II, III, and High School Reading can create a video book review, which will be uploaded to Youtube to share with current and future students. The bonus is worth 10 points and is due the last day of the first quarter.

To receive full credit for the video book review,  you MUST:

  • Choose a book from the list that you read for the book journal
  • Prepare a video that is 3-5 minutes long
  • In the video, you should:
    • Tell the title, the author’s name, and the date of publication
    • Discuss the setting, characters, and basic premise of the book WITHOUT spoiling the ending or other major plot points.
    • Read a sample passage directly from the book
    • Feature an image or video of the book’s cover
    • Clearly explain why you would or would not recommend the book to your classmates
    • List publication information for the book and any other non-original work, such as music included in the video.
  • Bring the video on a flash drive or upload it online in a format that can be uploaded to my Youtube channel.

Note: The above example does a pretty good job, but doesn’t include the year of publication nor a sample passage from the book. It’s also a bit under the required three minutes, but including a short excerpt from the book should help you take up that extra time.

Bad Grammar Can Effect “Hoo” You Date

Comedian Aziz Anzari’s book “Modern Romance” is equal parts scientific research, anecdotal evidence, and stand up comedy. This book isn’t recommended for teens as it deals with mature themes and uses mature language. It reads like an R-rated Freakonomics all about dating in the modern age.

I found the book interesting because it dealt extensively with how people communicate effectively…and not-so-effectively in their romantic relationships. You might be surprised to learn that sloppy communication skills reflected poorly on potential suitors, and for many folks it was a deal breaker.  Anzari relates:

“In any interviews we did, whenever bad grammar or spelling popped up, it was an immediate and major turnoff. Women seemed to view it as a clear indicator that a dude was a bozo. Let’s say you are a handsome, charming stud who really made a great first impression. If your first text is ‘Hey we shud hang out sumtimez,’ you may just destroy any goodwill you have built up.

“On our subreddit we were told a story about a man who was dating a spectacular woman but eventually broke up with her. He said it went downhill once he texted her asking if she had heard about a party at a mutual friend’s house. Her response was ‘Hoo?’ Not ‘Who,’ but ‘Hoo.’ He kept trying to force the word ‘who’ into conversation to make sure this beautiful woman could spell a simple three-letter word. Every time, she spelled it ‘hoo.’ He said it ruined everything. (NOTE: We did confirm that this was a woman and not an owl.)”

Missing Oxford Comma Costs Company $10 Million

Delivery drivers for Oakhurst Dairy won their suit against the Portland milk and cream company, after a U.S. court of appeals found that the wording of Maine’s overtime rules were written ambiguously. Per state law, the following activities are not eligible for overtime pay:

The canning, processing, preserving,
freezing, drying, marketing, storing,
packing for shipment or distribution of:

(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.

Oakhurst argued that “distribution of” was separate from “packing for shipment,” which would allow the company to claim exemption from paying its delivery drivers over time. In trying to prove lawmakers’ intent, Oakhurst even pointed to Maine’s legislative style guide, which advises against using the Oxford comma.

“For want of a comma, we have this case,” U.S. appeals judge David J. Barron wrote.

The appeals court ruled in favor of the five delivery drivers Monday, citing the “remedial purpose” of the state’s overtime laws as reason to interpret them liberally. So rejoice, grammar nerds, and know that the law is on your side.

via BostonMagazine.com

FOLLOW UP: The Boston Globe reports that the settlement will cost the company $10 million.

Literary Magazine Call for Submissions [Bonus]

Earn up to 30 bonus points in any of my high school courses (excluding Dual Enrollment and Mass Media) if your submissions are published in our upcoming issue of the school literary magazine. (Short stories = 20 points Essay = 20 points Poetry = 10 points  Other Work [drawings, comics, artistic photography, etc.] = 5 points.) Please note that submission does not guarantee inclusion. See details below:

Chadwick School Literary Magazine: Call for Submissions

The editorial staff of the Chadwick School literary magazine is looking for original creative works by Chadwick students to publish in our next issue.

Short stories, poetry, essays, songs, comics, drawings, photography, and other creative works will all be considered. You may submit work from class assignments or that you completed at home, but it must be entirely original. More

Orwell’s classic dystopian novel about a man who basically creates “alternative facts” for a living, tops the Amazon.com top sellers list. 1984 was published 35 years before the year 1984. Now, nearly 35 years after the year 1984, the book seems more relevant than ever. If you’ve never read it, or if it’s been a while, it is worth a second look.

Read more here:

US News & World Report

The New Yorker

 

A Little Christmas Bonus

This bonus is designed to reward students for checking the website. Unlike most bonus assignments, you may not want to tell your friends about this one. Twenty bonus points will be given out in total across all my classes. Those twenty points will be split among all the students in all my classes who participate.  So, if just one students sees this and participates, he or she will get all 20 points. However, if twenty students participate, that’s just one point each.  To participate, write the words “I’m an English Elf!” on the back of your final exam. That’s it!

Rules are what makes art beautiful.

“There’s a tendency to think that art is finally the place where there are no rules, where you have complete freedom. I’m going to sit down at the keyboard and it’s just going to flow out of me onto the paper and it’s going to be pure art.–No! What you are describing is finger painting. Rules are what makes art beautiful.”

-Aaron Sorkin