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Close Reading and Analysis of Digital Text - English Grades 9-12

Author // Emily Rozmus Friday, 28 October 2016

Ohio's Anchor Standards for College and Career Readiness require students to 

  • Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
  • Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

Close reading and analysis of text require higher level thinking, patience and focus. As students prepare for college and career, they are sure to have plenty of practice reading  print, but are they spending as much time reading digital text? Studies show that when we read online, we tend to lose focus, skim instead of reading closely, and ultimately grow tired from ads, hyperlinks and graphics on the screen. INFOhio's digital content is an excellent resources for helping students in all grades engage with text online in order to comprehend, analyze and evaluate for learning. Literary Reference Center is perfect for modeling the analysis of complex digital text. Not only does it offer thousands of literary works and information about their authors, it also has nearly 100,000 pieces of literary criticism.  

To get students engaged with digital text, use the following lesson suggestion:

  • Project a piece of literary analysis from the database about a text the class has read.  
  • Ask the students to read the article on their own devices and use a tool such as Note Anywhere (Chrome Extenstion) or Internote (Firefox extension) to write questions and comments on the text.
  • Direct students to look at the projected text, and model chunking using a screenshot tool to snip the complex text into chunks on the screen. The Windows Snipping Tool is perfect for chunking digital text for close reading and analysis.  
  • Once you have taken a screenshot, ask a student to volunteer to annotate the text using the highlight and pen tools. 
  • In this sample using the article The Fall of the House of Usher by Keith Neilson, the student has highlighted words that address character traits and development.  

  • Continue to chunk text, asking students to identify words and phrases that reveal the author's analysis of the text, and his support of how text structure interacts or characters, events and ideas develop over the course of the text.  
  • Model this strategy with at least three chunks, and then ask students to work with a partner to do the same on their own devices, setting a specific number of chunks they should create, and providing a specific task such as "circle the words that show the author's analysis of character development."
  • If your district uses Chromebooks, Diigo and Evernote both have Chrome extensions which allow students to take screenshots and annotate on them. As a teacher, you can also send the article to Google Classroom.
  • Ask students to share their findings with classmates in small groups, and urge them to provide support from the text. 
  • Direct students to write a summary of the literary analysis. Use Jim Burke's Summary Notes graphic organizer as a guide (found on page 37 of the linked PDF).
  • Stretch learning by asking students to analyze a different text read in class. Use a digital copy of the text from Literary Reference Center and the digital tools and resources for chunking and annotating.  

With practice, students can become proficient and even advanced readers of online text. Modeling by a teacher, and strategies and tools for chunking and annotating complex text are key in their readiness for college and career. Try Literary Reference Center for your lessons on complex text and analysis and share them with us on Twitter and Facebook using #INFOhioWorks - we would love to see how you are using this resource!


About the Author

Posted by: Emily Rozmus

Emily Rozmus is a Senior Instructional Specialist at INFOhio. She has worked in education for over 25 years, first as a secondary English teacher and district librarian before starting at INFOhio in 2013. Emily has developed district growth plans, integrated technology, created instruction for information literacy, fostered teacher development, and worked on teams to implement curriculum. At INFOhio, she focuses on training educators to use INFOhio resources to improve early learning. She also works to share research and best practices for helping students be better readers of INFOhio's digital text. 

Emily Rozmus
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