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MINI LESSONS FOR

ANNOTATING TEXT
CLOSE READING MINI LESSON
ANNOTATING TEXT: IDENTIFYING KEY WORDS

Purpose of this lesson


 Students will understand words important to a full text or passage from a text that will be useful
for talking about the text
 Students will be able to identify key words by highlighting them in the text or jotting them on an
annotation sheet.

Points to include in this lesson


 Key words are words that are important to the central idea of a text.
 Key words might be:
o Individual words or a short phrase (such as running a marathon)
o Words you might want to use in a summary
o Words related to the topic
o People’s or characters’ names
o Names of places
o Bolded words
o Words the author repeats several times
o Dates
o Names of historical events (like Boston Tea Party)

When choosing a text to teach this lesson, look for:


 Informational passages with a few of the text features noted above as well as words related to
the topic.
 Literary passages with characters’ names, places, repeated words, and words related to the
problem or solving the problem.

Teaching steps
1. Make a chart for “finding Key Words” from the suggested key words above, or add ideas of your
own.
2. Discuss this list with students.
3. Provide a text that is easy for your students to read with clear examples of some possible key
words.
4. Model the way you choose a key word in this passage, explaining your thinking to students.
5. Ask students to identify some additional key words from the passage by highlighting the words or
using an Annotation Worksheet to record their word choices.
6. Discuss student annotations: why some choices are better than others based on their connection
to the central idea of the text.

Follow-up independent task for applying the skill or concept


 Provide students with a similar passage and ask them to identify the key words independently as
part of their seat work.
 Discuss responses when students return to the group for the next lesson.
CLOSE READING MINI LESSON
ANNOTATING TEXT: IDENTIFYING CENTRAL IDEAS IN A TEXT

Purpose of this lesson


 Students will understand what a central idea is, and how to find a central idea in a text.

Points to include in this lesson


 A central idea is an idea that is important to the meaning of a text.
 Sometimes a central idea is stated, but often you have to infer it (figure it out)
 Ask yourself: Is the author showing something that s/he is not saying in the exact words on the
page?
 Also ask yourself: Can I draw any conclusions from these details?
 Some possible central ideas might be: what is important to a character or person; how a
character or person feels; why a problem might be serious.
 If you’re reading about a social studies or science topic, the central idea might be the part of the
topic that is explained in this part of the text (like the important person’s childhood, or the causes
of a problem).
 Sometimes the same central idea is extended through several paragraphs, stanzas, etc. Other
times different paragraphs or stanzas have different central ideas.
 Try to complete this sentence in just a few words: This [paragraph] is about _____________.
 While a central idea might be the same as a main idea or theme, we’re mostly talking about a
part of a text here, rather than a whole text.

When choosing a text to teach this lesson, look for:


 Informational passages easy for your students to read with the topic divided into subheadings.
 Literary passages easy for your students to read that are written in the first person with clear
indications of characters’ feelings or motivations.

Teaching steps
7. Discuss what a “central idea” is, and how to figure out a central idea based on the “Points to
Include in a Lesson” described above.
8. Provide a text that is easy for your students to read with some central ideas that will be easy for
your students to find.
9. Model the way you find a central idea in this text—and how you can tell it’s a central idea.
10. Ask students to read another part of the passage themselves (or a similar passage) and figure out
the central idea.
11. Discuss student’s responses, clarifying why some central ideas might be more accurate than
others.

Follow-up independent task for applying the skill or concept


 Provide students with a similar passage and ask them to identify one or more central ideas
independently as part of their seat work.
 Discuss responses when students return to the group for the next lesson.
CLOSE READING MINI LESSON
ANNOTATING TEXT: SUMMARIZING TEXT PASSAGES (OR NOTING DETAILS)*

*Before teaching this mini-lesson, teach the lesson on Identifying Key Words

Purpose of this lesson


 Students will summarize key ideas in text passages or part of a passage including key vocabulary.
 If the text chunk is really short, or students are less skilled as readers, ask them to identify
important details instead.

Points to include in this lesson


 As you annotate, you will mostly be summarizing parts of a text, not a whole text.
 Use the key words from the passage or part of the passage.
 Put ideas into your own words (except for the key words, which you should try to use).
 Make your summary short—about 20 words if you’re summarizing a paragraph or about 10
words if you’re summarizing (paraphrasing) a sentence or two).
 Sometimes a summary like this that is really short is called a gist statement.
 Start by paraphrasing each sentence if the passage is really complicated.

When choosing a text to teach this lesson, look for:


 Informational passages that are easy for your students to read, with paragraphs that have several
details or one detail thoroughly explained.
 Literary passages that are easy for your students to read, with details about a specific story
element like a character, problem, or setting.

Teaching steps
1. Although you have surely worked on summarizing with your students in the past, clarify what
you’re looking for in a close reading summary using the “Points to include in this Lesson” noted
above.
2. Provide a text that is easy for students to read and meets the criteria for choosing a text as
described above
3. Read the designated part of a passage with students, choosing key words together. Model how
you would summarize the passage in a gist statement of approximately 20 words using key words
from the passage.
4. Ask students to read a similar passage during group time where they note the key words and then
summarize it in a brief gist statement.
5. Discuss students’ summaries: why some summaries are more exemplary than others.

Follow-up independent task for applying the skill or concept


 Provide students with a similar passage. As part of their seat work ask them to identify the key
words and use these words in a brief summary on the Annotation Work Sheet.
 Discuss responses when students return to the group for the next lesson.
CLOSE READING MINI LESSON
ANNOTATING TEXT: NOTING AUTHOR’S CRAFT*

*Because there are so many crafts, you may want to teach multiple mini lessons on author’s
craft

Purpose of this lesson


 Students will identify specific crafts used by an author in a piece of writing, and understand how a
particular craft enhances that text.

Points to include in this lesson


 Author’s craft is about how an author writes.
 A “craft” is a little like a trick an author uses to make the writing more interesting, lively, or easier
to understand.
 It’s important not only to find different crafts in a text, but to think about why the author
included them: How did these crafts make the writing more interesting, lively, or easier to
understand?
 If you can find author’s crafts in the texts you read, you can then try them in your own writing.
 There are many kinds of author’s crafts:
o Imagery (including comparisons)
o Word choice
o Tone and voice
o Linking ideas together
o Sentence structure
o Types of writing in the passage
o Page layout, punctuation, and print conventions
o Text features and illustrations

When choosing a text to teach this lesson, look for:


 Picture books that are rich in craft:
o Informational sources should have great language as well as great content. (A couple of
picture book authors who stand out for well-crafted informational text are Robert
Burleigh and Nicola Davies)
o Literary sources should have lots of the narrative elements identified in the list of
Author’s Crafts to Consider During Close Reading. (A few picture book authors who stand
out for well-crafted literary text are Cynthia Rylant, Patricia MacLachlan, Jane Yolen, and
Eve Bunting)
 Poems and excerpts from longer texts such as chapter books can also supply wonderful models of
well-crafted writing

Teaching steps
1. Choose a picture book (or another source) with which your students are familiar that
demonstrates one or more of the author’s crafts you want to feature.
2. Reread selected portions of this text with students. Explain the crafts and why the author
included them (how they make the writing more interesting, lively, or easier to understand)
3. Provide a text that is easy for students to read that contains these same crafts. Ask them to note
any crafts that they find. Discuss.
4. Repeat this lesson with additional crafts as needed.
Follow-up independent task for applying the skill or concept
1. Provide students with a similar passage that demonstrates your featured crafts. As part of their
seat work ask them to note these crafts and be ready to discuss how they enhance the writing.
2. Discuss the crafts students found when they return to the group for the next lesson.

AUTHOR’S CRAFTS TO CONSIDER DURING CLOSE READING

Crafts to notice Possible questions


Imagery, including comparisons: 1. Which words paint a picture in your mind? How did the
 Similes author help you paint this picture?
 Metaphors 2. Is something being compared? What?
 Personification 3. Why is the comparison effective? (typically because of the
 Idioms clear/strong/unusual/striking/vivid etc. connection between
 Symbols the two)
4. What symbols are present? Why did the author choose these
symbols?
5. Are there lots of symbols? If so, could this be an allegory?
1. What word(s) stand out? Why? (strong/ contrasts to what
you expect, vivid, unusual choice of word)
2. How do particular words get us to look at characters,
events, etc. in a particular way? (Do they evoke an
Word choice emotion?)
3. Are there any words that seem “old fashioned” (archaic)—
words or expressions that you don’t hear very much today?
What does this show?
4. Does the author use a dialect? Why? What is the effect?
5. Are there any made up words? Why might the author have
played with language in this way?
1. What one word describes the tone? (will be something like
funny, serious, angry, lonely, positive/negative)
2. Is the voice formal or informal? If it seems informal, how did
Tone and voice the author make it that way? If it’s formal: What makes it
formal?
3. Does the voice seem to match the content well?
4. What words in the text contribute to the tone?
5. Does the tone change? Where? How?
6. If the tone changes, there could be two words to describe it.
What are the two words?
7. Why do you think the author chose to create this tone?
Linking ideas together: 1. What words link thoughts together? (ex: and, but, however,
 Phrases therefore, in conclusion, etc.)
 Sentences 2. What do these linking words show about the ideas in the
 Paragraphs text?”
3. How does the author connect one thought to the next? (or
one paragraph or page to the next?)
Sentence structure: 1. What stands out about the way this sentence is written?
 Short sentence 2. Why did the author choose a short sentence here? (short:
 Long sentences stands out from sentences around it; for emphasis)
 Sentences where word order 3. Why did the author make this sentence really long? (Long:
is important may convey the “on and on” sense of the experience)
 Sentence fragments 4. Why did the author write a fragment instead of a complete
 Questions sentence? (emphasis; often shows the internal thought of a
 Commands character)
 Patterns 5. Based on the order of the words in this sentence, which one
 Repeated lines, words, or do you think is the most important? Why? What was the
phrases author trying to show by placing this word in this place?
(strong words at the beginning or end of a sentence are
more powerful than if the same word is in the middle of the
sentence)
6. Why did the author use a question here? (rhetorical
questions are not really intended to be answered, but to
make a point: “Why am I always the one who gets
blamed?”; some questions set up the main idea of the
paragraph: “Why do we care about endangered species?”)
7. What is the exclamation point/command all about? (high
importance, bossy tone)
8. Do the sentences have a pattern? (all constructed the same
way) Where does the author break the pattern? Why?
(patterns create balance; a change in the pattern makes an
idea stand out)
9. Does the author repeat particular words, lines, or phrases?
10. How does this impact meaning? (provides emphasis)
Types of writing in the passage 1. Ex: Is there narration, example, explanation, argument,
rhymed lines, description, question/answer, etc.?
2. For narration, what narrative elements are present?
(dialogue, description, body language, internal dialogue,
flashback, foreshadowing, other )
3. How do these different types of writing make the text more
lively or interesting?
Page layout, punctuation, and 1. What do you notice about the way the author set up the
print conventions page? (number of paragraphs, stanzas, etc.) How can these
observations help you as you read?
2. Is there anything unusual or interesting about the
punctuation or the way the author used punctuation?
(parentheses to offer small asides, semicolons, colons,
ellipses etc.)
3. Did the author place print in an interesting way to add to
meaning?
4. What about font and the size of print: Do these contribute
to meaning? How?
Text features and illustrations 1. What text feature and other illustrations has the author
included that are helpful to readers? (Might be: bolded
words, bullet points, text boxes, diagrams, photographs,
drawings, etc.)
2. In what ways are these features and illustrations helpful?
ANNOTATION WORKSHEET

Key Words Summary or Details

What key words will you want to remember from Summarize the important details in this part of
this part of the text? Why is each word the text using key words as needed, or note the
important? details.

Central Ideas Author’s Craft

Are there any central ideas in this part of the text Which author’s crafts in this part of the text add
that the author may be showing but not telling? to your understanding? Explain.
Explain.