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Deeper Reading Activities

Site: Student Moodle Archive
Course: English 10 (ENG201) Master Course
Book: Deeper Reading Activities
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Monday, 29 November 2021, 1:58 AM

Activities to use for assignments

These are activities that students should try at home while they are reading to give themselves more focus and purpose.

Question/Comment Activity (pg.48,49)

Students use sticky notes to mark any places directly in their reading that they experience difficulty, or a thought. Examples for the question/comment activity are:

1)Ask a question about comprehension. It could be a sentence, paragraph, page - any kind of passage that you are having a hard time comprehending.

2)Ask a question about a character.

3)Ask a question about the plot.

4)Ask a question about a word you may not understand or know the meaning of. 

1)Make a comment about a sentence, paragraph, page - any kind of passage that makes you think about something worth commenting about.

2)Make a comment about a character.

3)Make a comment about the plot.

4)Make a comment about a direct quote from the book that struck you as noteworthy.

20 Questions Activity (pg.58,59)

Good readers consciously work through early confusion. After reading the first chapter of any text, students should generate 20 questions. This will help students read closely and focus as they read the rest of the book. Twenty questions will help students understand: 1)Confusion is natural when reading complex text 2)good readers are not deterred by initial confusion 3)hanging in there when the early part of the book is tough is what good readers do.

Have students use the following words to start their 20 questions: Who, What, Why, When, Where, Which, How

Color Coding Activity (pg.68,69)

In Google Docs, have students color-code their reading comprehension. Ask students to read a difficult passage and highlight every single word in the text. The should highlight words, phrases, sentences, or entire passages that they understand in yellow. They should highlight everything else that they do not understand in pink.

Students can note where their comprehension falters, or write questions in the comments section of Google Docs to use as a discussion piece the following day.

1) Provides the reader with focus
2) Motivates the reader to concentrate in order to come up with as few pink-highlighted passages as possible.
3) It show the reader where to slow his or her pace.
4) It alerts the reader to the importance of contect in trying to make meaning.
5) It encourages the reader to revise his or her comprehension while reading. 

Trouble Slips Activity (pg.69)

Have students use sticky notes, or strips of paper to mark "trouble areas" in their reading. Have them make notes on these slips of paper, flagging those words and passages that are giving them the hardest time. They may want to line the bookmark up with the text and draw arrows to show the trouble-spots. These slips will provide discussion the following day as they ask each other for clarification on their trouble spots.

What does it say, mean, matter...

Students will read and choose a passage that they can think about, and then answer these three questions:

1. What does it say? (summary of the actual passage)

2. What does it mean? (supporting the summary with additional textual evidence)

3. What does it matter? (essentially, why we read this piece of literature)

Example: To Kill a Mockingbird ch.24
**Find the entire example in Deeper Reading pgs. 87-91

Literary Dominoes (pg.94-97)

In a way, the plots of novels, plays, and stories are like dominoes. A happens, which causes B to happen, which in turn causes C to happen - a process that continues until the reader reaches the resolution. 

Dr. Seuss, Because a Bug Went Ka-Choo! 
*A bug sneezes, causing a seed to fall out of a tree. The seed hits a worm on the head, who in his anger then kicks a tree. The tree drops a coconut and bops a turtle in the head. The turtle falls in the lake and splashes a hen, and before you know it, things quickly spin out of control. The chain of events culminates with an entire city in an uproar. And all because a bug, the first domino in the series, went ka-choo. 

At the end of a novel or play, a resolution has been reached, and students need to consider the events that led to that resolution.

Give students index cards to fill out and act as "dominoes." Instead of supplying them with the first three events, dominoes A, B, and C, give students the answers to the last three dominoes X, Y, and Z.

Positive/Negative Chart pgs 98-100

A positive-negative chart is an excellent way to have students track specific literary elements in a novel or play.


1. Positive versus negative behavior by a specific charcter

              i.e Pip in Great Expectations steals food for a convict. Is this a positive or negative behavior and how positive or negative is it? How does this compare to other behaviors?

2. Positive or negative influence other characters have on the main character

           i.e Students pay attention to the influence other characters have on a given character.

3. Highest or lowest point in the story.

           i.e Have students mark the high and low points of a story for a given character. Students will then chart these points based on how positive or negative the events appear in the life of the character. 



Responsibility Pie Charts (pgs 102-103)

This activity is a way for students to consider a deeper reading of a book or play. Students must consider which characters or real world people have an affect on the outcome. Then students will create a pie chart to explain who claims the most responsibility in terms of the outcome.


The Holocaust is portrayed in many different novels and students can use real world events as well as the circumstances from the novel or play to map the responsibilty in relation to the outcome. In the Diary of Anne Frank, what people were responsible for the ultimate death of the main characters.

Double Journal Entries (pg.116)

Students draw a vertical line down the page, creating a t-chart. On the left side of the chart, they copy a passage they find compelling. On the right side, they write a response to the passage. 

Example: 1984
"There was the routine of confession that had to be gone through: the groveling on the floor and screaming for mercy, the crack of broken bones, the smashed teeth and bloody clots of hair." "Nobody ever escaped detection, and nobody ever failed to confess" (87). 

This quote stuck out like a sore thumb to me. Here Winston was living in a world where people were tortured until they confessed to their crimes, which of course they would do even if it was untrue. It sounds a lot like today with Bush's new plan on terrorists. His plan is to hold suspected terrorists without phone calls, a lawyer, his constitutional rights, and forms of torture are then performed to get what they want out of him. This is what our government is telling us they are doing, but how do we know they're not breaking bones or smashing teeth in like Winston is telling us they will do. This is by far a scary quote to read; could I or my children be the next prole turned into the Thought Police?

The Iceberg (All about metaphors) Pgs. 134-135, 141

The iceberg activity uses the idea of an iceberg to explain a character. Like an iceberg, part of a character is easily visible; but at the same time there might be a part, sometimes the large part, of the character that remains unseen. All characters reveal something about themselves to others, but sometimes it's more interesting to have students analyze what a character doesn't reveal to others. Using the iceberg as an analytical tool prodeuced deeper thinking as students are asked to analyze the seen and unseen characterisitics of a character.

Examples of activities:

1. Students draw an iceberg for a specific character and on the part above the water line and below the water line, students write down what they see in the character that isn't specificly mentioned in the text.

2. Students using drawings instead of words as metaphors for the character. On a separate sheet, students will explain what the symbol they have choosen means and how the symbol connects to the character.


              Character: Hamlet

              Symbol: Referee

              Explanation of symbol: A referee unerstands all the rules and is there to make sure the players follow them. He has to be decisive when he hands out penalties to players who break rules.

              How this connects: Hamlet understands the "rules" of Elsinore, the castle. Hamlet is horrified when his mother and his uncle ignore the rules. As the play unfolds, it is obvious that his is bothered by all the rule violations. To help decide who should be penalized, Hamlet decides to lay a trap by staging a play that re-enacts his father's murder.

Issue Chart (pgs 153-156)

Issue Charts are a way for students to track the issues of the story and how those issues can relate in today's world.

Example from the book 1984:

Issue: Language is used to manipulate people.

Examples from novel: The Ministry of Love tortues people; the Ministry of Peace wages war; the Ministr of Truth publishes lies.

Examples of Today's World: The current administration is promoting the "Healthy Forests" program, which allows increased logging of protected wilderness; the "Clear Skies Initiative" permits greater industrial pollution (San Francisco Chronicle, July 14, 2003).


Levels of Reflection (pgs. 156-158)

The Levels of Reflection ask students to look at the ways the text affects everything from themselves to humanity. The benefit of this activity is the students will have to think beyond themselves. This activity can be done by drawing circles with the student in the center and the groups listed below surrounding the center circle like ripples on water.

Questions students should ask:

What does this book mean in terms of my family? ("Family" can extend beyond the traditional means)

What does this book mean in terms of my peers? Why should people my age be concerned with the issues presented in this book?

What does this book mean in terms of my community? How do the ideas in this book affect both my community and others?

What does this book mean in terms of thinking about my country? What relevance deos it play in relation to our national well-being?

What does this book mean about the human condition? What can I learn about humanity from reading this text? What are the universal truths it contains?

Classroom Activities

Use the following activities in class to help students dig deeper into what they are reading.

Anticipation Guides (pg.39,40)

Students record their opinions to statements posed to them about varying issues. This is typically done before reading the novel. After recording their opinions, students use the items on the anticipation guide as starting points for discussion. This helps get them focused on the big ideas of the reading.

KWLR Charts pg.44

This chart helps students before, during, and after reading a text.  There are four columns with the headings of what students know before reading (K), what they want to know (W), what they have learn (L), and what they research on their own (R).

Daily Focus Questions (pgs.46,47)

This activity starts when students enter the classroom. There is a focus question written on the board for students to think about and respond to after attendance is taken. There are two types of discussion questions:

1)Text-dependent questions: these recquire students to have read the text before they can answer the question. However, often these questions have already been discussed thoroughly in class. The goal is not to catch students in a mistake, but to have them spend a moment answering a question that will bring them back to where the class left off the day before.

2) Text-independent questions: these questions serve to prepare students for the big ideas and themes they are about to encounter. 

20 Questions Activity (pgs.58,59)

Good readers consciously work through early confusion. After reading the first chapter of any text, students should generate 20 questions. This will help students read closely and focus as they read the rest of the book. Twenty questions will help students understand: 1)Confusion is natural when reading complex text 2)good readers are not deterred by initial confusion 3)hanging in there when the early part of the book is tough is what good readers do.

Have students use the following words to start their 20 questions: Who, What, Why, When, Where, Which, How

Character Charts (pg.60)

Students fill out a grid as they progress through a piece of reading. This helps them keep the characters straight. When completed, it also works as a graphic organizer to help students prepare for writing an essay on the work.

Shift Chart (pgs.60,61)

Have students focus their attention on characters in the book who undergo significant change. Students write down adjectives describing the character. Then, after the character has undergone change, they choose different adjectives to describe the character after the change. In the center of the chart, they note what caused the change to the character.

Save the last word for me! pg. 115

This is a group activity. Each student copies a passage that he or she finds thought-provoking and writes it in large letters on a sheet of paper. Taking turns, each student silently holds up his or her passage so the other group members can read it and in turn each group member responds to the passage. The group members will try to answer why the passage was chosen or how important it is to a chapter. Once each member answers, the person who chose the passage will get the "last word" and add his or her own thoughts.

Mystery Envelopes pg.118

This is a group activity. Each group will receive a "mystery envelope" In the envelope there is a question that the group  will discuss and after, share answers as the rest of the students will be taking notes from the other groups.

Examples of Questions:

1. What is the single most important word in this chapter? Why?

2. Which character has changed the most so far? Is the change good or bad? What caused this change?

3. What is the central theme of this passage/chapter/book?

4. Which minor character played the most important role in this book? Why?

5. What lesson(s) have we learned from a specific character?

Theme Triangles (pg.121,122)

Theme triangles can be used after students finish a novel. Students are placed into groups where they complete the following:

1) Come up with a central theme for the novel. For example, "Remarkable courage is needed to stand up to the evils of racism."

2) Choose a film that addresses the same theme. All students in the group must agree on the same film and everyone must watch it on his/her own time.

3) Each group finds one more example of the theme in some other medium or genre. Example: poems, songs, art, books, and speeches - any source that underscores this theme in the modern world.

4) Each group prepares a ten-minute presentation in which they discuss the importance of their theme in the novel and demonstrate how it relates to the other two points of their triangle.

The three degrees of... (pg.158)

Depending on the text, students search for three degrees of evil, compassion, oppression , sacrifice, greed, love, or any central idea found in the book. Students should then consider the central theme and how it is found in today's world. 


In To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the central themes is racism.

1. First Degree racism: The KKK held a rally this weekend in Kentucky to promote a white-only state.

2. Second-degree racism: Recent racial-profiling statsitics have shown that blacks and other people of color are more likely to be pulled over by the police.

3. Third-degree racism: Though there are many black players, there are very few black coaches in college football.

Just the facts (pg.183)

There is supposed to be a clear distinction between a straight news story, however, this is not necessarily true. To help students understand that news stories contain bias, show them how different newspapers presen the same news story.

Giving students articles with contrasting biases and having them highlight the loaded language helps them understand that bias may be found even in the straight news section of any newspaper.