Close Reading: Text Based Questions

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Students will be able to analyze the author's use of direct and indirect characterization and figurative language by close reading a passage from “Zebra” and answering text-based questions textual evidence.

Big Idea

Close reading gives students room to explore and analyze literature using productive struggle and explicit guidance from the teacher.


15 minutes

Identify the types of figurative language that is being used in the poem written on the board.  In your concrete evidence, quote and cite the lines that show the type of figurative language.  In the commentary, explain why these lines are examples of that type of figurative language.  Summarize your paragraph in your concluding sentence.




 After students completed their journal, we went over the figurative language used in the poem.  Students explained that teapots can sing, teacups can't chatter, chairs can't pass gas, and therefore, they're all examples of personification.  All of the items are being compared to a chorus, a choir, so that's a metaphor.  There's onomatopoeia (cackled, chattered, gurgled), and some alliteration.

Modeling Answering Text Dependent Questions

15 minutes

We read the directions with the students.  Students are only to use the information in the passage we read.  They cannot use the information from the rest of the story, with one exception.  They are allowed to use the information that Zebra was hurt when he was struck by a car.  Students write their answer in the second column.  They refer back to the text to find evidence and cite that evidence by writing the paragraph they found the information in.  That box is split into three rows to provide opportunity for multiple citations. Once they have their basic answer and their evidence, they write an expanded answer.  The expanded answer consists of the basic answer and the evidence written as concrete evidence and commentary.  They were joyful when we told them they didn't need to write a topic sentence or concluding sentence, just concrete evidence and commentary.  One kid almost got up and danced. One kid cried quietly from joy. Sheer joy.


In the spirit of modeling, we picked one question to model, question number one. 

  1. Identify the direct traits the author uses to reveal the character's appearance or personality.


My student teacher modeled her basic answer, including going back and looking at the passage. The author, through the narrator, specifically tells us that Zebra is grateful because he doesn't have to write, he just has to listen to stories.  The author, through the narrator, tells us that Andrea has freckles, red hair, and wears thick glasses.  We learn that Mark has a deformed upper lip and Kevin talks with his hands.


For proof, she identified the paragraph number. Zebra's traits were found in paragraph 3, Andrea's traits were found in paragraph four, Mark's were found in paragraph 5, and Kevin's were found in paragraph 6. 


For the expanded answer, she showed the students the paragraph she had written the night before.  Her paragraph combined her answer and the evidence.  She didn't write about all four characters, just two.  She wrote her expanded answer on a separate sheet of paper, since there wasn't enough room in that tiny box.


Here's her expanded answer.



Close Reading: Answering Text Dependent Questions

25 minutes

After the modeling, students were given the rest of the period to work on the rest of the text dependent questions. Whatever they did not finish in class was to be completed for homework and would certainly be checked for during the ETL check.


While students were working, we were able to wander around the room, checking for whether the students understood the assignment, were progressing, and were citing their evidence.  We could prompt our learners who are slow to pick up pencils.


A note about the graphic organizer. This graphic organizer was not my original idea.  I don't remember, though, where I got it.  At the time I found it, I was looking through the materials for our new Junior Great books, but when I went back to check, I couldn't find it. I may have found  I have no idea where it came from, but I loved it and used it.  So, whoever came up with this idea, thank you.  Let me know who you are so I can thank you and attribute the work to you properly.


I've included a blank template of the graphic organizer that can be used or modified.  You can type the questions in the question column, print it out, copy it, and give it to students.  You could change the amount of cells required to citation.  You could put a pretty background in it.  The possibilities are endless.  Here's the template: Text Based Questions Template.doc



5 minutes

Who Am I?


We instructed each student to think of one character and identify at least one of that character's traits, either direct or indirect.  Random students were chosen to state their character trait, and the rest of the class had to identify which character it was, as well as identify whether it was direct or indirect characterization.

Lesson Resources

Today's lesson picture is a picture I took of Nicholas Wilton's Silent Fall, one of the pictures in my textbook.   The entire picture consists of a falling? figure on top, and a zebra on the bottom.  I simply cropped the picture I had taken to isolate the zebra.  I chose this picture because a bunch of the text based questions deal with the fact that the students' stories are metaphors for their lives, and the zebra is also a metaphor for the character of Zebra.