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Culminate a Close Reading with a Writing Task

November 6, 2018

Students’ reading comprehension is often assessed through their writing. Thus, after pouring over a passage, digging into its deeper meanings, and engaging in a close reading, conclude the experience with a writing task that assesses students’ new understanding of the text, topic, and/or author. Such a culminating task mirrors the requirements on standardized assessments. These tests expect students to use the information learned from the reading.

When determining the written task, consider the one that best assesses the targeted reading and writing standards.

  • READING STANDARDS: The written response should focus on the reading comprehension standard(s) that were utilized within the close-reading questions and class discussions. Many of the thoughts and annotations made during the reading are used in the after-reading writing task. These become the evidence that supports their thinking.
  • WRITING STANDARDS: Since the written response can generate a persuasive/argumentative, informative/expository, or a narrative, consider the mode emphasized within the writing curriculum. Craft a writing task that has students generate a product that coincides with the genre they have been learning as writers.

Three common after-reading writing tasks include the Literary Analysis, Research Writing, and Narrative Writing.

Literary-Analysis Task

Within a literary analysis, readers study, compare, and/or evaluate an author’s craft. After closely reading excerpts in literature, students might analyze some of the literary devices (e.g., irony, satire, figurative language, etc.). Or, perhaps they are evaluating the author perspectives or text structures of multiple informational texts.

NOTE: Introduce the literary-analysis task after reading one text before asking students to juggle multiple passages.

INFORMATIVE RESPONSE: The Carpet Fitter” is intentionally organized to create a twist or surprise ending. Analyze how the author accomplishes this. Explain how different sections of this text contribute to this overall effect.

ARGUMENTATIVE RESPONSE: Is the author’s message behind the song “Let It Go” inspiring or disheartening? After reading the print lyrics and viewing the Disney video clip, write an essay that argues which is the author’s intended purpose. Support your position with specific details and observable evidence from both texts. Be sure to acknowledge competing views.

Research-Writing Task

A literary analysis task can follow a close reading of one or more passages. However, the research-writing task can only be assigned as a reading task if students have read two or more informational texts.

After closely reading multiple nonfiction texts, students are asked to utilize information from all the sources. They are not summarizing the texts, but rather synthesizing the information. Depending on how the prompt is worded, this synthesis can generate a persuasive/argumentative response or an informative one.

INFORMATIVE RESPONSE: Can the brain become smarter or is intelligence fixed? After reading the three passages on learning and the brain, write an article for your peers that relates how the brain develops from birth to twenty-five years of age.

ARGUMENTATIVE RESPONSE: Did Amelia Earhart crash on Nikumaroro Island or into the Pacific Ocean? After reading about Amelia Earhart’s final flight, write an essay that argues your opinion of her final resting place. Support your position with evidence from your research. Be sure to acknowledge competing views. Back up your claim with reasons and evidence from all three sources.

Narrative-Writing Task

After teaching story elements in reading and writing, then a narrative-writing task is a logical choice. After closely reading literature, the prompt may require students to rewrite the original story/scene from another point of view, insert the missing piece, or tell what will likely happen in the sequel.

NARRATIVE RESPONSE: You have read Anthony Browne’s Voices in the Park. Think about how the story would be different if it were told from the dog’s viewpoint. Write a fifth story from the point of view of the dog. Be sure to utilize the story element and plot details apparent in all four original versions.

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