Close Reading

In her classes, Professor Judith Ryan teaches students close reading by having them identify the important words in a text as a class.  For example, Judith takes a small passage of Kafka and projects it using transparencies.  (This could be done with a computer hooked up to a projector as well).  She tells the students to think about the important words in the passage.  After a few seconds, she asks them to share the first word they find significant in the passage.  A student shares, and Judith highlights that word on the screen.  The students then explain why he or she thought the word was important.  Judith next asks if anybody chose an earlier word in the passage, and, again, she highlights the word and prompts the student to explain the reasoning.  She continues in this vein until until students begin to see that every word counts and that, to do a close reading, you must make every word meaningful.