Developing students’ literary-analysis skills through the citing and developing of textual evidence.

by Brenda Werner

Grades 9-12


On thing I’ve learned is that anytime you can give students choice, you empower them.

Absorbing and comprehending complex and longer texts takes time. This generation of students consumes information differently than the previous ones. They are more accustomed to information coming to them at a quicker pace, through social media and often while multitasking. So giving them choice in what they read is critical to periodically drawing them back into closer and deeper analysis of texts.

We always begin with some direct instruction that focuses on standards and skills development. We’ll talk about strategies for making sense of complex language, slowing down the pace and re-reading for understanding, and making inferences that are back up with evidence from the text.

Choice offers many benefits to students. It:

-Enables them to connect to a text that matches their interests,

-Binds them to other students who share those interests,

-Builds confidence in students to become more skilled readers of not only texts they choose, but any text that they are confronted with in another setting.

Offering choice sets students up for caring more deeply about what they read and leads them to carry out the focus and attention they need to absorb complex texts.


About Brenda Werner

Brenda Werner, Ph.D. is the 2012 North Dakota Teacher of the Year and currently the Director of Graduate Education Programs at the University of Ma...

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