Close Reading Lessons



Do Now: Welcome back! Share one of the most memorable summer experiences in a deep Dari g circle. Assign seats.

Mini Lesson:

Comparing your account of the summer experience. What did you notice about both accounts of the experiences or memories?

Write down three characteristics you have noticed. Share out.

Jigsaw Activity:

In a small group, read the assigned poem about Summer. Annotate while reading. Make a list of 3 things that that stand out to you, which helps you understand the poem. Create a poster that demonstrates your group understanding. Share out.

HOMEWORK: Reflection: connection between a narrative form and analytical writing

Unit I: Close Reading- Analyzing  Poetry and Passages of Fiction

Lesson 1:

Essential Questions: How does a poem mean? How does the meaning come about?

Aim:How do we read a text closely? Why asking so many questions about the text?

Texts: My Antonia by Willa Cather, “To an Athlete Dying Young” by A.E. Housman

CCLS: RI 11-12.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative,
connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key
term or terms over the course of a text

CCLS: RI 11-12.6

Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly
effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text

CCLS: W 11-12 1c

Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid
reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. Explore and inquire into areas of interest to
formulate an argument.

Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid
reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. Explore and inquire into areas of interest to
formulate an argument.

Lesson Descriptions and purpose: Before we get into more complex texts, we will walk through a text together to see how close reading works. This lesson will also introduce you to asking “First Impression Questions”.

Do Now: Make a list of  the activities you do when reading closely.

Activities:1. Read the excerpt from My Antonia by Willa Cather. Jot down some questions that arise from your fist impression.”I sat down in the middle of the garden, where snakes could scarcely approach unseen, and leaned my back against a warm yellow pumpkin. There were some ground-cherry bushes growing along the furrows, full of fruit. I turned back the papery triangular sheaths that protected the berries and ate a few. All about me giant grasshoppers, twice as big as any I had ever seen, were doing acrobatic feats among the dried vines. The gophers scurried up and down the ploughed ground. There in the sheltered draw-bottom the wind did not blow very hard, but I could hear it singing its humming tune up on the level, and I could see the tall grasses wave. The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers. Queer little red bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons around me. Their backs were polished vermilion, with black spots. I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”

2. After first reading, you surely will have questions about how and why Cather’s style is so distinct, which is the first step in reading closely.
Here are some question that may arise from your first reading-

  • What part do snakes play in this passage about happiness?
  • What might it mean that a passage is set in a garden?
  • What makes the objects in the passage so vivid?
  • How does the narrator connect happiness and death? How does the narrator fit , literally and figuratively , into the landscape?
  • How does the passage change from beginning to end?

Mini Conclusion: Yo may  not have answer to all these questions but asking these questions show you ae engaging with the text-you are reading actively.

Application: It’s your turn to try

1.Read one of the following poems in a small group and ask some first impression questions.

Poem 1: Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz”

Poem 2: “To an Athlet Dying Young” by A. E. Housman

2. Each group gathers best 5-  questions and be prepared to share with the class

3. Share in class all questions.

Wrap Up: Reflect on the experience you ha today- How does asking questions help you more engaged with the text? Any question?

Homework: Read Roethke’s poem ” My Papa’s Waltz” and write a micro-essay on word choice, tone and point of view in the poem.

Lesson 2
Aim: What do elements of style include? How does a writer’s stylistic choice convey the work’s message or meaning?
1. Review concepts of diction, figurative language, imagery, syntax, tone and mood ( on chart paper)
2. Turn and talk to a partner and share your micro-essay on Roethke’s poem ” My Papa’s Waltz” and write a micro-essay on word choice, tone and point of view in the poem.
3. Peer edit.
4. Share in class effective ideas from student microessy about word choice, tone and perspective in Roethke’s poem.
5. Read and analyze a sample essay. Gather the effective points the author has made about diction, tone and point of view. ( See 9/11 calendar)
Application- Your turn
Now that you have some familiarity with elements of style, you can use them as a starting point for close reading. Here are some questions you can ask of any text:
  • Which of the important words( verbs, nouns, adj. adverbs) in the poem or passage are general and abstract, which are specific or general?
  • Are the key words formal , informal, colloquial, or slang?
  • Are there words with strong connotations, words we might refer to as ” loaded”?

Figures of Language

  • Are there any example of  metaphor, simile or personification? How do they extend the meaning?


  • What’s the order of the words in the sentence? Are they in a subject-verb form or inverted?
  • What’s more prevalent in he passage? Verbs or nouns?
  • What are the sentences like? Do the meaning build periodically or cumulatively?
  • How do the sentence connect their words, phrases and clauses?
  • How is he passage organized? Is it chronological? Doe it move from concrete to abstract or visa visa?

Analyze a sample analysis of a passage ( 9/11).

Reread A.E. Housman’s poem and write a micro-essay on the poem with special attention to word choice, syntax and imagery and figures of speech.

Homework: write a micro-essay on the poem with special attention to word choice, syntax and imagery and figures of speech.


Lesson 3
Objectives: Students will be able to use elements of style and structure to analyze a poem closely.
Aim: How do elements of style and structure impact the meaning of poetry?
Do Now: What do you know  about the following elements? Turn and talk to a partner and share the information you have. Pairs share in class.
  • rhyme
  • meter
  • forms

Activity 1- Introduing new concepts

Forms-ode, sonnet, elegy , ode, villanelle, terza rima, blank verse, free verse

Poetic syntax- enjambment- run on line-when one line ends without a oause and must continue into the next line to complete it meaning; caesura( a pause within a line sometimes punctuated ). Questions to ask- are the poem’s line long or short? Do the poem’s lines create a visual pattern or create a special meaning?

Sound: alliteration, assonance, cadence( rise and fall of voice)

Activity 2

Read and analyze “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams

Questions to consider asking while reading-

  1. How can form and sound not only reinforce an image but can actually create meaning?i
  2. In what form is the poem written?
  3. What does the use of enjambment suggest?
  4. Why does he give the preposition “upon” its own line?
  5. Why is the word “wheelbarrow”  broken into two lines?
  6. What meaning does he image created by the 2nd stanza suggest?
  7. Is there an example of assonance? What does the sound suggest?
  8. Is there an example of alliteration? What effect does the sound create?
  9. What sense does the poem create when the poet begins his poem with “much” and ends with “chicken”?
  10. How do the sounds created in the poem connect to the meaning of the poem?
  11. If the poem does not follow a traditional form, what sort of logic structures the poem? Why are the stanzas broken as they are? What is the relationship among stanzas?
Application- It’s your turn to practice!
Read a poem “ Delight in Disorder” by Robert Herrick. How does the poet use specific techniques to convey his message with special attention to the use of personification, oxymoron, diction and structure( hint: parallel structure).
Work in a group of three and present your close reading of the poem on a chart paper.
Quick Write to wrap up ( informal assessment or a micro-essay) based on your group discussion.
1. Complete the “quick write” of Herrick’s poem.
2. Read Edgar Allen Poe’s “Bell” and analyze how sound device serves to convey a special meaning.
Lesson 4
Objectives: Students will use sound and form devices to read a poem closely.
1. Read a poem “ Delight in Disorder” by Robert Herrick. How does the poet use specific techniques to convey his message with special attention to the use of personification, oxymoron, diction and structure( hint: parallel structure).
Work in a group of three and present your close reading of the poem on a chart paper.
2. Discuss the poem “Delight in Disorder”
 HW. Develope one of the of mocro essay into a well-developed essay by following the rubric.
Lesson 5 villanelle
Objectives: Students will understand the poetic form of villanelle and become familiar with the AP Essay rubric and use it to guide their essay writing.
Aim: Why constitutes a villanelle? How does Elizabeth Bishop use the form to convey her ideas in the poem “One Art”?
Texts: “One Art”, AP Rubric, Sample Essay
Learning Sequence
  1. Villanelle: “The highly structured villanelle is a nineteen-line poem with two repeating rhymes and two refrains. The form is made up of five tercets followed by a quatrain. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated alternately in the last lines of the succeeding stanzas; then in the final stanza, the refrain serves as the poem’s two concluding lines. Using capitals for the refrains and lowercase letters for the rhymes, the form could be expressed as: A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2. (
  2. Contemporary poets have not limited themselves to the pastoral themes originally expressed by the free-form villanelles of the Renaissance, and have loosened the fixed form to allow variations on the refrains. Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” is another well-known example; other poets who have penned villanelles include W. H. Auden, Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney, David Shapiro, and Sylvia Plath. – (See more at:
  3. Read and analyze One Art
  4. Review AP Essay rubric

Homework: 1. Peer edit the 1st AP Essay on AE Houseman’s poem “Young Athlet Dying..”

2. Study the sample AP Essay on One Art and use the rubric to critique the essay.

Lesson 6
Objectives: Students will understand the structure of a Shakespearean sonnet and compose their own by using the same meter, rhyme and structure.
Aim: What is in a sonnet?
Learning Sequence:
  1. Remind students of returning the peer-edited essay on Housman’s poem. Revise the essay. Due on Thursday 9/19.
  2. Review the poem “Evening Hawk” and the same AP Essay. Discuss the AP Essay rubric and determine the scores of the essay.
  3. Write a micro-essay in class based on the poem “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop’s Poem “One Art” (Elizabeth Bishop)

Prompt:  “Write an essay in which you describe how the speaker’s attitude toward loss in lines 16-19 is related to her attitude toward loss in lines 1-15. Using specific references to the text, show how verse form and language contribute to the reader’s understanding of these attitudes.”

Homework: Complete the micro-essay on the “One Art”.
Lesson 7
Objectives: Students will be able to infer meanings from extended metaphors and imagery; they will also understand the AP Essay rubric by analyzing a sample A essay.
Aim: How do we interpret imagery and extended metaphors? What’s essential to write a striong AP essay?
Text: Poem “Evening Hawk”, sample essay , rubric, sonnet
Learning Sequence:
  1. Remind students to request the return of the essay ( peer-edited); 2nd draft due on Friday
  2. “One Art” Micro Essay review ( clarify the promt  in Lesson 6)
  3. Read “Evening Hawk“- extended metaphors, symbol and imagery; annotate; focued questions; TDQ
  4. Read and analyze the sample AP essay. How does it serve a good example for 8-9 essay? Is it thorough? subtle? fully developed? insightful? coherent?

Quick Write: What techniques or ideas you can take home today and use them in your ssay writing?

Homework: Revise your essy and turn itin tomorrow.

Lesson 8 English “Sonnet 138, “Sonnet 130”

Introduction: Sonnet 138, accessible and witty, is usually a favorite with students as it is about love, trust, male-female relationships, and (obliquely) sex.

Objectives: Students will recognize the way that Shakespeare uses contrast to describe the speaker’s “mistress” in the poem and to explain why she is “rare” or uniquely beautiful; they will also be able to identify the wit and humor in this sonnet compared to that in Sonnet 130.

Aim:  How does Shakespeare use contrast to describe the speaker’s “mistress” in the poem ?Why she is “rare” or uniquely beautiful? How are  the wit and humor in this sonnet compared to that in Sonnet 130?

Texts: Sonnet 138Sonnet 130

Skills: The lesson covers parts of speech, as well as imagery terms:visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, organic, kinesthetic. 

Learning Sequence:

  1. First quatrain: Students should be encouraged to recognize the contrasts that the speaker makes in the first four lines. What does the subject of the poem look like? How do we know?
  2. Second quatrain: What contrasts are made? What does the speaker say about the subject’s “cheeks” and “breath”?
  3. Third quatrain: What contrasts are made? This is a good time to turn the conversation to stereotypes of beauty. What stereotypes does the speaker introduce? How does the speaker “explode” those stereotypes, or demonstrate the falsity of them? What is the speaker saying about the subject?
  4. Rhyming couplet: Have students define “rare” and “belied” using context clues. What is the speaker’s point?
  5.  Explain that this poem is a blazon, a description of the subject referring to particular body parts.  How many parts are described? What comparisons are used?  Choose a few and play with other similes: His/her eyes are like what? Which similes create a positive image? Which similes create a negative image?
  6. Read the Sonnet 138 aloud in four groups, one for each quatrain and one for the couplet. This emphasizes the structure of the poem, which, unlike Sonnet 130 read in the previous lesson, has a clear volta(SHIFT) between octave (8 LINES) and sestet (6 lines).
  7. Examine: what is going on in the poem. To whom do they imagine the poet is speaking? How would they describe the relationship between the two lovers?
  8. Understand the meaning/sense of “untutored” “vainly,” “simply,” “credit,” “unjust” – all the words that we still use but which have other meanings now. What’s the pun in the couplet?
  9.  Discuss: How does the wit and humor in this sonnet compared to that in Sonnet 130? Are there differences in tone? In what ways can both be said to be “Anti-Petrarchan”?
  10. Sonnets 127-152 are often referred to as the “Dark Lady” sonnets. Write responses to the following questions in your journals: Do you think that Sonnets 130 and138 are about the same woman? Why or why not? Share these responses.

 Homework: Write a micro-essay on one of the Sonnets.  How doe Shakespeare use imagery, structure and volta to convey the  relationship between the dark lady and the speaker.

Lesson 9 Extended Metaphors in Evening Hawk and Ode to Autumn by John Keats

Objectives: Students will identify extended metaphor and understand how it can be used to accentuate the meaning of a poem.

Aim: How do poets use extended metaphors to enhance meanings of their poem?

Texts: Emily Dickinson “We grow accustomed to the Dark” ,” Ode to Autumn” and “Ode to the West Wind”

Learning Sequence:

  1. Continue reading Evening Hawk. Discuss the connection between the image of hawk and the concept of time and history.
  2. Read Emily Dickinson’s poem and identify the extended metaphor. How is used to express her emotions?
  3. What’s an ode? How does Keats use personified autumn to convey his attitude toward the season? How can we consider autumn as an extended metaphor?
  4. How does Shelley use west wind as an extended metaphor to convey his meaning in the poem?

Work in small groups and each group will discuss the focused questions as posted above.

Homework: Analyze the poem you have discussed in the small group. Write a micro-essay to discuss how the author uses an extended metaphor to convey a central idea.

Lesson 10

Overview: This lesson is designed to assist students in understanding one type of lyric poems, ode. Through the study and analysis of the poem “To Autumn” by Keats, students can understand this particular type of lyric poetry more effectively in their future reading, and they will also demonstrate their understanding by composing an ode.

Objective: 1)To recognize the theme in the poem “To Autumn””. 2)To analyze how autumn is portrayed in the poem.


  1. Finish the discussion of Evening Hawk and sample AP Essay
  2. Make a list of techniques you can learn from the essay that’ll help you score high for the AP Essays
  3. Return the AP Essay  to students. Review .What ares could you have done better?
  4. Discuss Ode to Autumn by Keats.
  5. Discuss Ode to the West Wind by Shelley.
  6. Take questions about the Poetry Project.

Learning Sequence:

  1. Finish the discussion of Evening Hawk and sample AP Essay
  2. Make a list of techniques you can learn from the essay that’ll help you score high for the AP Essays
  3. Return the AP Essay  to students. Review .What ares could you have done better?
  4. ( Ode to Autumn)Read the first stanza and circle two words which you think best describe autumn.
  5. Point out lines in the first stanza which draw pictures in your mind
  6. Name at least three things that autumn and the sun are conspiring to do in stanza 1. How may autumn confuse the bees?
  7. Cite three instances in which the spirit of autumn is personified as a farm girl?
  8. What sights are evoked at line 25-26 to picture autumn’s beauty? What autumn sounds are mentioned in the last seven lines of final stanza?
  9. What does Keats suggest about autumn’s beauty and about cyclic pattern of nature? Is this poem mainly descriptive, or does the poet intrude his moods on the poem?
  10. What examples of tactile imagery-imagery that appeals to the senses of touch-do you find in” autumn”?
  11. What is the theme of the ode?(ripeness and harvest; nature’s cycles)
  12. What poetic devices are used to  portrayed such a theme? How is it conveyed effectively? ( See a sample analysis of Keat’s poem The Bright Star )
  13. (Ode to the West Wind) How is the west wind described in each stanza? In each section, is the west wind portrayed differently? Why? What is Terza Rima?  Cite a few unforgettable  examples of imagery and diction that portray the west wind. What effect do they create? What is the point the poet try to convey ? How is he successful ?
  14. How does Shelly use imagery, diction and contrast ( antithesis) to portray the west wind and convey the central meaning that  the west wind is ______________?

Homework: Based on the class discussion, write a 2nd draft of your micro-essay on  one of the poems.

Reminder: Poetry Project is due Monday; There will be an in class timed writing on Monday ans the essay will be graded as the normative assessment of the unit.

Poetry Unit Assessment: (Due Monday)

You will be assigned to analyze one of the poems below. For each poem, you will

  • identify  three poetic devices used most effectively to convey the author’s meanings.
  • Provide clear explanation for each device .
  • For each device, cite three examples and anaylize their meanings.
  • How do the examples create effects or contribute to the meaning?
  • How do the examples of devices connect to each otehr and serve to convey the central meaning of the poem?
  •  You will do an oral and visual presentation to show your critical reading of the poem and in depth understanding of its meaning and the connection between the techniques and meaning.

William Carlos Williams (“The Dance”), Edna St. Vincent Millay (“I will put chaos into fourteen lines”), Edgar Allan Poe (“The Bells”), John Frederick Nims (“Love Poem”), Seamus Heaney (“Mid-Term Break” and “Digging”)Gerard Manley Hopkins (“Pied Beauty”)Allen Ginsberg (“A Supermarket in America,”Derek Walcott (“The Virgins”), Andrew Marvell (“To His Coy Mistress”),

 Individual Presentation of the poetry project


  1. Poetry Project presentation
  2. Q & A & Sum up
  3. Park the remaining questions about the  presented poemson a chart paper.
  4. Study for the poetry summative assessment on Wed.
  5. Bring in a college essay question on Wed. and we’ll respond to some of the chosen questions.
  6. Develop them into a full college essay.

Write a micro essays on
o ambiguous diction in Sonnet 138 by Shakespeare
o  Figures of Speech in Emily Dickinson’s “ My Life Had Stood-A Loaded Gun”
o “Rhyme, Meter, Form, Poetic Syntax and Sound” in “Bright Star, Would I were steadfast as thou art-“ by John Keats

Explication-Analytic, Critical essay assignment: After reading closely the poem “Death Be Not Proud” by John Donne, write an essay on “Why Doesn’t the Speaker Fear Death?” Explain why you find the argument convincing or not. ( We’ll workshop this assignment and use the College-Board-developed nine-point rubric to evaluate the final work-clarity of thesis, diction, syntax, structure, specificity and generalization, rhetorical techniques).

  • Comparison: Compare imagery in William Blake’s “London” and Mary Robinson’s “London’s Summer Morning”.
  • Explication:  Write a literary analysis essay on “ A Reading of Emily Dickinson’s ‘There’s a certain Slant of Light’”.