One of the most difficult skills to teach is close reading. Even older students and advanced students are often baffled by it. Over the years teaching seniors and AP students, I have developed these handouts to break down the process and scaffold the thinking and skills.
This bundle contains three student handouts designed to guide students through a close reading of a passage, forming a thesis for a paper about the passage, and considering possible paper organizations. In addition, there are two annotated examples of close reading papers, which I wrote.
These are worksheets and examples that I have used successfully for years in both a senior composition course and in AP Language and AP Literature. Most were designed to help students write a close reading analysis of an excerpt from Hamlet after we had read and studied the play, although the worksheets could be used for a close reading of any passage in literature.
The first handout is an 8-step reading/annotation process. It is an editable Word document that you may tailor to a text other than Hamlet. The second handout is a thesis construction worksheet in PDF format, but it is generic enough to use with various texts. The third handout is a chart that provides descriptions of possible ways a close reading can be organized along with positives and negatives of each organization. This is also a Word document that you may edit if you wish to limit or expand your students' choices.
Finally, there are two examples of close readings. One is a traditionally organized analysis of the "To be or not to be" soliloquy in Hamlet. The other is a "chronological" organization of a passage from 1984. It is very short, but ultimately more sophisticated in its structure than the Hamlet essay. Both examples are annotated to point out the thesis with key words, the topic sentences with key words, the examples and the analysis. Although both may use terms with which students are unfamiliar (infinitives, juxtaposition, etc.), they give students an idea of what they should be aiming for, show different organizations, and demonstrate--probably most helpfully--how to include a lot of examples using partial quotes and how to analyze those examples.
A good companion to these worksheets is the "Summarizing vs. Asserting vs. Analyzing" handout, also available in my store.
Although you may be able to modify the examples to use with younger students, these were meant for students with good background knowledge of essay writing and structure, as well as experience with reading and discussing complex texts.