Teaching Close Reading through Short Composition/Revision

This activity may have writers evaluate short compositions, but their subjects are quite tall: great Americans. Pupils read one another's compositions and closely examine how specific phrases and diction contribute to shaping American virtues. It challenges them to read their work to classmates for constructive criticism—a great way to learn. By speaking in front of their peers and listening to other compositions, class members think about what being American really means. They are also encouraged to publish their work so it can be seen beyond the classroom. 

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Instructional Ideas

  • Consider adding the short composition to a portfolio to showcase growth
  • Collaboratively brainstorm a rubric to assess work and have learners self-grade, producing evidence of the skills they were expected to learn through the activity
Classroom Considerations

  • Assumes individuals have produced a fiction or creative nonfiction piece (100-300 words) prior to the lesson
  • Expects that high schoolers know how to integrate quotes 

  • The jigsaw format is an engaging form of collaborative learning
  • Discussion format allows learners to talk about style, culture, and writing techniques

  • Activity requires background knowledge from a lesson that is not provided with resource