Close Reading Activities

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Close reading activities are a great way to encourage students to analyze the deeper meaning in a text. This lesson provides teachers with close reading activities that can be used with a wide variety of students.

Close Reading Activities

Before you being to use these activities in the classroom, it's important to have a basic understanding of how close reading works and how to select appropriate materials. First of all, the passages you select should be short and topic specific. Second, students should highlight, or otherwise mark-up, passages to help further visualize and review the information. Finally, try to keep the reading material diverse and the activities relatively short. For younger learners, ten minutes at the beginning, or end, of a lesson is usually sufficient. For more advanced students, try extending the activities by incorporating multiple readings of the same passage.

1st Reading - Get the gist (overall meaning/big picture)

2nd Reading - Read deeper (organization/style/structure)

3rd Reading - Read again (gather evidence/references/deeper meaning/how the passage is connected to other passages)

Find the Evidence

This activity requires students to find specific types of persuasive evidence in a passage. It's best if every student uses the same reading material so that a discussion about similarities and differences can take place at the end of the activity.

  • Find and print an op ed or other overtly opinionated or persuasive article. There are numerous online newspapers, magazines, and blogs where this type of material can be found.
  • Tell students to read the article once to understand the overall meaning.
  • The second time they read, students should look for, and highlight, the following persuasive elements:
    • Anecdotes
    • Rhetorical questions
    • Personification/simile
    • Dramatic or evocative language
  • Ask for volunteers to identify each type of evidence and then discuss why and how the author used this evidence.

Listen Closely

Listening to someone else read requires students to imagine the text and analyze the information contained therein. For this activity, you will read a short text three times. Each time you read the text, students must listen for, and write down, a specific type of information.

Only reveal the type of information the students should be listening for just before each reading.

1st Reading: Names

2nd Reading: Dates

3rd Reading: Events

  • Sample text:

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