Close Reading: Judith Ortiz Cofer

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SWBAT recognize how word choices, syntax, and other language devices build meaning in small chunks of text.

Big Idea

There are many layers to peel back when deeply analyzing the language of a text.


Close Reading Through Multiple Choice

70 minutes

For some reason five of the twelve students in my class were absent yesterday and therefore weren’t in class for the analysis of Cofer.  Because that discussion of structure and developing argument through memoir is important for their own writing, and I decided to use it as a model because of the strong understanding from the students yesterday, I want to review that discussion with everyone present.  To do this and still work on new skills with the students who were in class, I will have students answer a series of Multiple choice questions on “Myth of the Latin Woman” from The Language of Composition Teacher Guide that are meant for AP test preparation.  I have found that these questions also serve as a good way of addressing some of the micro-analysis elements such as word choices of a small chunk of text, specific rhetorical effects, and domain-specific vocabulary—things I don’t always get to. 

Similar to other times I’ve used these questions, students will first answer the questions independently, though this won’t count as a grade (yet!  That time is coming soon, but I feel like they still aren’t strong enough yet in rhetorical analysis at this level for that sort of summative assessment).  Then they will work with a partner to go over each question and try to come to a consensus.  This added step from previous times we’ve worked with multiple choice allows me to listen to these conversations and understand more precisely where students are having challenges.

After students have talked in pairs, I will go through each question separately and we will address confusion about rhetorical strategies, vocabulary (in one question, one of the answer choices is ‘invective’), and reading the questions carefully (a key part of standardized test-taking).  Additionally, I will take opportunities to ask some structural questions regarding personal narrative that we worked on yesterday so the students who were missing can also hear those concepts.

Next Steps:  Students will explore a more complex classic text on gender by reading “Professions for Women” by Virginia Woolf and answering a series of rhetoric and style questions from their textbook that focus once again on personal narrative.