This close reading assessment features 11 text-dependent, high-order questions to promote improved reading comprehension and analysis of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (Act 2, Scene 5). By engaging in this exercise, students will analyze character motivations, examine word choices to discern meaning, analyze details to draw reasoned inferences, apply knowledge of literary devices, and articulate ideas in writing with clarity and precision. An answer key is included, as are Word Document and PDF versions of the assessment.
This resource aligns well to Academic Literacy Project teaching principles and may serve as the basis for small-group discussions. Through these discussions, students decode language and pose/respond to questions relating to plot, broad topics, and character development, demonstrating an ability to analyze how complex characters transform and advance the plot and themes by applying logic and citing compelling, meaningful textual evidence. They will also evaluate their peers’ reasoning and use of rhetoric to advance claims, clarifying or challenging unclear ideas. Using this resource for structured guidance, students, ultimately, will present information, conclusions, and supporting textual evidence clearly, concisely, and appropriately, thereby helping their peers comprehend their thinking.
In addition to helping students gain deeper understanding of the material and greater confidence in their ability to read and comprehend complex texts, this resource was designed to prepare students for ACT-style questioning.
Specifically, questions pertain to the following:
- Analyzing character dialogue to discern inferred meaning
- Analyzing character motivations and attitudes
- Applying knowledge of personification to the text
- Analyzing text to discern tone in context
- Analyzing the entirety of the scene to discern its primary purpose
- Defining complex words and phrases in context, taking into consideration denotative definitions and connotative associations
- Writing with clarity, logic, and precision
- Citing textual evidence in support of claims