Close reading is a multi-layered process and is a critical skill to develop when reading dense and difficult texts. This handout is a great pre-reading activity prior to starting Death of a Salesman. Students can work individually, or in pairs, to annotate the stage directions to the play (written on the handout) before Act I. The steps to guided annotations are listed, including content, language, and significance. After the guided annotations, students will respond to three questions that may be used for small group or class discussion.
An excerpt from the directions on the handout, explaining the importance of close reading: “Strong readers do not skim superficially over the surface of a text; they read closely, delving into deeper layers of meaning, analyzing every subtle nuance of language, and making connections.”