Common Core ELA Regents Review

A Close Reading Workshop

Step 1: Rules of Notice and Habits of Mind

Don’t ask yourself: What do I think? Or What do i like or dislike?

Ask: What do I notice?

A few prompts:

  • What do you find most interesting?
  • What do you find most STRANGE( not fit)?
  • What do you find most REVEALING?

What do I notice first in the poem? Make a list of details that stand out for you for any reason- strange association, sharp imagery, interesting diction, different use of familiar phrases, unknown diction,  repetition, figurative language, etc.

  1. Cast a wide net by listing all the details you notice.
  2. Focus inside what you have notices. Rank the various features of your subject you have notices.
  3. Say why three things you selected struck you as the most interesting ( or revealing or strange). Saying why will trigger interpretive leaps to the possible meaning of whatever you find most interesting in your obeservations.

Step 2: Based on your initial observations , what is your first  impression of the poem:

  • What does the poem seem to describe or emphasize?
  • How are the details related?

Step 3: The Method: What repeats? What goes with what( strand)? What is opposed to what (binaries)? What doesn’t fit (anomalies)?

Step 4: Asking So What? Pushing observations to conclusions. This  is universal prompt to spur the move from observation to implication and ultimately interpretation.  Asking so what is calling to account, a way of pressing yourself to confront that essential question, “ what does this matter?” It is thus a challenge to make meaning through a creative leap- to move beyond the patterns and emphases you have been observing in the data to tentative conclusions about what these observations suggest.

In step 3 The Method, when you write about a single strand or contrast and explain why it is interesting or strange, essentially you are asking so what? and answering the question.

  • What does the observation imply?
  • Why does this observation matter?
  • Where does this observation get us?
  • How can we begin to theorize the significance of the observation( from concrete details to generalization: making a claim)?

What is the deeper meaning of the poem based on the details I have noticed and the analysis I did? What is the central idea of the poem?

The tone of so what can sound rude but the directness can be liberating.  It’ll press our students to think what the observations matter.

  1. Repetition: List exact repetitions and number of words, details, i.e.  waltz x3
  2. Repetition of the same or similar details ( strand): polite, courteous, decorous. Explain the strand’s connection logic with a label: manners
  3. Details or words that form or suggest binary oppositions ( to create contrasting imagery or attitudes)
  4. Choose one repetition or strand or binary as most or interesting and explain in one paragraph why you think it’s important ( this ranking may  prompt to an interpretive leap ).
  5. Locate anomalies: things that seem not to fit. This is also part of a strand.

For this step, initially students may need to so one step at a time and in order. After several times of practice, they may record their answers under each step simultaneously.  The steps in The Methods ARE CONSECUATIVE, EACH STEP LEADING TO THE next , and to various kinds of regrouping, which is actually rethinking.

“So What” can function in two ways:

  1. Observation-> So what?–> implications ( bring out the hidden or deeper meaning )
  2. Implication-àSo what-> Conclusion ( make a generalized statement based on concrete evidence: claim or controlling idea, or thesis).

Elicit Questions Stems from the class:

Homework: What types of questions are still elusive to me? Why? Reflect on your exam.

Lesson 5


  1. Supporting paragraph
  2. Refutation paragraph
  3. Textual Analysis
  4. Reprint the allusion poem if you received an A

Lesson 6

Writing Session:

Objectives: Students will identify the essentail  elements in an argumetn essay by analyzing the exemplary argument essasy and comparing them to the essay they have written .

Aim: What are the essential elements in an argument essay?

Do now: Share in pairs the annotatins you have made for each exemplary essay. Discuss the stregnths of the essay in the areas of claim, topic sentence, use of evidence , analysis and so what.


For students:

In pairs, students will deconstruct the essay and create a detailed  outline for one of the essays by listing the topic sentences, reasons, evidence , analysis and so what conclusion.

Activity 2:

Teacher-student conferences on argument essay writing.

Homework: Reflect on the mid term exam and your essays, in particular the argumetn essay. What are you still struggling with? How can you make the claim more precise? How do you cite evidence? How do you find more relevant evidence?

Review the multiple choice questions, What type of questions are still challenging to you?

Homework for Thursday through Sunday:

Write an analysis on the use of a specific strategy by Cicero to develop  his central idea ( his message) through the entire speech.

Reading Session

Objectives: Students will identify a rental idea from the excerpt of Henry Thoreau’s Walden  through close reading strategies.

Aim: How does Thoreau develop his central idea through a specific writing strategy?

Do NOW: Identify one strategy and list three examples of the strategy.

Mini Lesson:

  • DO Notice and Focus activity
  • The METHOD: Examining your annotation, which ideas are repeated? How are they emphasized?
  • Select ONE STRAND or binary or repetition, explain the meaning of each in a separate paragraph.
  • Compare the three paragraphs . Thaw connections do you notice? Is there a shared idea? Or  an idea that evolves through the  strategy?

Student Independent Study

Read and analyze the exemplary essay. Do the following-

  1. Illustrate the structure of the essay ( ulterior and logical)
  2. How accurate is the thesis?
  3. How is the writing strategy discussed to connect to the meaning?
  4. How is the thesis illustrated and developed?

Homework: Reflect on your analytical writing.

Lesson 7


Objectives: Students will gain insight into the structure of an argument essay by peer reviewing the outlines they have created.

Aim: What are struggling when it comes to writing a succeful argument essay withiin 60 minutes? How do we overcome the challeneges?

Do Now: Reflect on one particular area that you struggled with the most. Pair Share.

Activity 1:

As a class, review the exemplary essay that is cored a 6 and list all the reasons why the essay deserves a 6 by using the rubric.

Activity 2: Individually, peer-review one of your classmate’s outlines based on the exemplary essay. How well did the student understand the structure and procedure of argument?

Activity 3: Review  Thoreau’s essay excerpt from Walden.

Activity 4: Peer review the analysis quiz

Homework: Peer review the analysis essay based on Cicero’s oration.


Objectives: Students will understand the types of questions asked in the CC Regents multiple choice questions.

Aim: What kind of questions are there in the CC Regents multiple choice questions? How do we provide the best answer possible?

Do Now: Review your multiple choice questions section in particular, the ones you answered wrong. What types of questions are they?

Mini Lesson: 

Reading Comprehension Question Types

  1. Fiction ( short story and poetry)
    1. How to determine a tone implied in textual evidence?
    2. How to identify a pattern in details or examples (evidence)?
    3. How to determine the connection between a specific part and the work as a whole?
    4. How to derive at “so what” based on the evidence provided?
    5. Connecting a specific part to the overall meaning ( theme) of a work
    6. Making the implicit explicit ( finding the hidden meaning-inference)
    7. Understanding the purposes of specific textual details such as character descriptions, setting, a dialogue or conflict etc.
    8. Determining tones.
    9. Understanding the purposes of specific literary techniques such as figurative language, repetition, alliteration and symbolism etc.
    10. Determining the purpose (tone) of a work. How do we use a tone to determine an author’s purpose?
  2. Non-Fiction
    1. How to determine a central idea?
    2. Identifying accurate and specific evidence that summarizes the central idea of a paragraph?
    3. Interpreting a phrase based on its context
    4. How to determine the purpose of textual evidence such as specific examples
    5. Understanding the purposes of specific literary techniques such as figurative language, repetition, alliteration and symbolism etc.
    6. Determining the purpose of specific details
    7. Determining the effect of a specific literary element ( irony) or technique ( symbolism, metaphor, etc.)
    8. Making inferences about tones based on the work as a whole
    9. Making inferences about an author’s attitude

Independent Practice:

Use the question types provided above to identify strategies we can use to answer the questions as precisely as possible. List the strategies.

Homework: Based on the reading section we have done in Aeneid, create 3 multiple questions that are similar to the ones int he CC English Regents.

Lesson 8


Objectives: Students will gain deeper understanding of textual analysis through revision.

Aim: How do use the textual analysis rubric to help you revise the essay on Cicero’s oration?

Do Now: Review the last lesson on Cicero’s oration.

Mini Lesson

Review the exemplary essay based on Walden to learn about the nuances for writing an in depth analysis.

Elicit strategies that makes the exemplary essay “precise”?

Independent Practice:

Revise the essay based on the peer-review tips as well as the new strategies.

Homework: Finish the revision. Read and annotate ” On Being an AMERICAN” BY Mencken.


Objectives: Students will learn strategies to generate the most relevant central idea of a passage by observing the most important textual details.

Aim: How do we generate a precise central idea?

Do Now: Make a T chart where on side you list the textual details and on the other side your claims.

Mini Lesson:

List examples of metaphors and imagery.

What essential ideas do the examples convey? Why?

Observe the types of multiple  choice questions.

Share the questions you have generated based on Aeneid. What did you notice?

Independent Practice:

Work in small groups of three and discuss the effect of various strategies on the development of meaning.

Homework: Read the next 3 pages of Aeneid and identify three literary devices and create multiple choice questions based on the meaning or effect of each.

 Lesson 9


Objectives: Students will orally present their thesis and defend it with specific evidence from Cicero’s oration.

Aim:  How precise is your evidence? How does each evidence illustrate one particular aspect of your thesis?

Do Now: Review  the term from the analysis rubric ” precise” and ” relevant”.

Class Activity:

Each student orally  presents the analysis by reading out loud the thesis statement and then enunciate the  evidence to support the thesis-

  1. Is the 1st evidence an example of the writing strategy?
  2. How does the evidence connect to the thesis?
  3. How can you frame your analysis within the framework of your thesis?
  4. How effective is the strategy in conveying the meaning that illustrates an aspect of your thesis?

Homework: Revise your essay. Draft #3 is due tomorrow. Bring in your annotations of On Being an American by Mencken ( 1922).


Assessment: Writing an refutation paragraph on Is Testing Students the Answer to America’s Education Woes?

Choose a position and write a counter-argument paragraph on demand.

Homework: Bring in your multiple-choice questions based on Aeneid.

Lesson 10

Writing Session

Review the ELA Regents text for the textual analysis essay.

Reading Session:

We’ll read the poem “Machines” by Daniel Whitehead Hicky


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