Is this what we mean by ‘close reading?’

85 questions assigned by a high school teacher to start off To Kill A Mockingbird… Is this what we mean by ‘close reading?’

  • Who is this book dedicated to?
  • How old was Jem when he broke his arm?
  • What is Jem’s full name?
  • Who does Scout believe caused the events to happen to lead to Jem’s accident?
  • Who does Jem believe cause the events to happen to lead to his accident?
  • How much older than Scout is Jem?
  • Is Scout a boy or a girl?
  • Is Jem a boy or a girl?
  • What is Jem and Scout’s father’s name?
  • What is shameful as Southerners?
  • How did Scout’s ancestor make his living?
  • Did the Finches at any time believe slavery was okay?
  • Who is supposed to live on Finch Landing? Who does?
  • What is in Atticus’s office?
  • How does Atticus feel about criminal law?
  • Who paid for John Finch’s education?
  • What name does John Finch go by?
  • How did the author describe each of the following Maycomb sites?
  • _____________________ town
  • _____________________ streets
  • _____________________Courthouse
  • _____________________Shade
  • _____________________ Collars
  • _____________________Ladies
  • How did people move back in the 1930s Maycomb, Alabama?
  • The narrator states that Maycomb had optimism because they had recently been told that they have “nothing to fear but fear itself.” To what is she referring?
  • Who is Calpurnia?
  • How did Scout and Jem view their father?
  • How is Calpurnia described by the narrator?
  • Who is the narrator?
  • Is the narrator a child or adult?
  • How old was Scout when her mother died?
  • How much younger was Atticus’s wife than himself?
  • How did Scout’s mother die?
  • Does Jem remember his mother?
  • Where is Mrs. Dubose’s house from Scout and Jem’s?
  • Where is the Radley house from Scout and Jem’s house?
  • Who lives next door to Jem and Dill?
  • How did Dill introduce himself?
  • How did Dill get the money to watch movies?
  • What kind of movies can you see in Maycomb?
  • When did Jem start to respect Dill?
  • What does “routine contentment” mean to Scout?
  • What did Dill become known as? Why?
  • Where would Dill stand to watch the Radley house?
  • How was the Radley house described?
  • What kinds of crimes had the Radley “phantom” been credited with?
  • What is Maycomb’s principle recreation?
  • By listing all the things the Radley’s don’t do, the narrator is telling us more about the town?  What do the people of the town expect from their residents?
  • What kinds of things did the Cunningham “gang” do in Maycomb?
  • What was the “gang” charged with?
  • How long has it been since anyone has seen Mr. Radley’s youngest son?
  • According to this person, Boo stabbed Mr. Radley with a pair of scissors.
  • According to Scout’s source, the sheriff wouldn’t put Boo in prison because…
  • How was old Mr. Radley described?
  • When Old Mr. Radley was dying, why do you think they put up sawhorses and straw?
  • Jem tells Dill three details about Boo haunting the neighborhood; what were they?
  • How does Jem describe Boo?
  • It takes Jem three days before he accepts Dill’s dare to go into the Radley yard. Dill goads him each day. What does Dill say each day? Day 1: _____ Day 2: _____ Day 3: _____
  • What happened after Jem touched the house? Was there any movement in the house?
  • Why was Jem “delighted” to take Scout to school the first day?
  • What is discipline like in Scout’s school?
  • What does Miss Caroline look like?
  • How old is she?
  • What does Scout know about Winston County (North Alabama)?
  • Why does most of the class know what the letters are?
  • How does Miss Caroline react when she finds out Scout can read?
  • What did Jem tell Scout about her childhood?
  • Do you think there is anything wrong with Scout’s reading?
  • How did Scout learn to read?
  • What does Scout mean by “One does not love breathing.”
  • What is the Dewey Decimal System of teaching? (You might have to look this up!)
  • What do you think Scout means by “writing?”
  • Is Calpurnia easy to please?
  • How could Scout tell by Walter’s face that he had Hookworms?
  • What is Scout’s full name?
  • Why won’t Walter take the quarter?
  • How did Mr. Cunningham pay Atticus back?
  • Why would the crash have hit the country folks hardest?
  • What is a WPA job? (You might have to look this one and #79 up.)
  • What did Scout think Miss Caroline wanted her hand for?  
  • What were Miss Caroline’s actions when the bell rang?
  • What did Scout do to get back at Walter?
  • How is Walter described?
  • How did Walter “almost die?”

14 Responses to “Is this what we mean by ‘close reading?’”

  1. i really like the first one: a little thought and conversation to be had (both before and after reading the book).

    After that, why bother reading at all if that’s the purpose?

  2. This isn’t close reading, this is a set of mostly inane, low-level questions that many teachers have been asking since well before CCSS ever kicked in.

  3. What Dan Callahan said.

    I’ve been seeing this for years now–goofy math problems and non-traditional algorithms presented as “Common Core Math.” It’s invariably stuff from things like Everyday Math that long predate CCSS. So congratulations, I guess, on a much rarer ELA example. Whenever I see this, per Dan Callahan’s point, I always want to see what the teacher was doing before Common Core, when we weren’t in high dudgeon about what kids are doing in school all day.

    All that said, I am as concerned with the overuse of close reading under Common Core as much as its misinterpretation. This might be of interest:

  4. That’s mostly a test for “checking they’ve really read it and not just said they’ve read it or only read a bit of it or skipped about to get the gist but not read all of it…”

    If it was an e-book every question could be answered with copy and paste. Which tells you exactly how much actual thought it requires!

  5. I see this often. It’s not true close reading and it’s not truly Common Core. However, they’ve taken the idea of text-dependent questions (which should be a few isolated questions that require analysis and the citing of text) and turned it into an incessant drill of comprehension questions. This is way more common than it should be.

  6. Looks more like a scavenger hunt to me..

  7. Just to help pile it on…the teacher uses “principle” rather than “principal” in “What is Maycomb’s principle recreation?”
    Wonder if any of the students will catch the misspelling or if they are so bored by then that it won’t matter.

  8. Deb Day (@mrsday75) Reply October 21, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    UGH. Just. UGH. No thought required here at all. Find the smart kid in the class and copy his/her answers.

  9. Where on earth did these come from?

  10. Q. How did Walter “almost die?”

    A. By answering all of the above questions.

  11. Over the years as an English teacher, I have seen these questions time and time again. These types of activities destroy a love of reading and turn a blind eye to the beauty behind the written word and the lessons this book in particular can teach us about life.

    This week at school, my students are wrapping up “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. To cap off our learning and understandings of the novel and its commentary on WWII, my students will put each of the character on trial for the crimes they committed on the island. Somehow, I believe Golding would prefer to have students look at the role of evil in his novel than answering a mindless test or writing a five paragraph essay.

  12. Reminds me of a really, really long Accelerated Reader test.

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