Close Reading Transmediation

(adapted from McGreevy-Nichols, S., Scheff, H., & Sprague, M)

I regularly use focused creative movement transmediation exercises to support close reading and analysis of literary passages.  These exercises are centered upon the close reading of a small passage (7-10 sentences in length).  Students are assigned a passage and are tasked with “translating” the words into movement through space.

Grade Level/Age: 10thgrade (15-16 years)

Curriculum Addressed: The exercise is an excellent assessment of students’ close reading and analysis skills because it is essential that students completely understand a passage from a text (content, context, diction, literary elements) in order for them to make choices in adaptation to creative movement.

Process Goals: Collaboration, critical thinking, revision, editing, and presentation (all 10thgrade ELA standards) are incorporated into this exercise. In supporting multiple intelligences and the arts, this demonstration of learning goes deeper than a traditional written analysis.

Materials: This activity is excellent because it can work with essentially any narrative text (I’ve never used it with a persuasive text, but it could work, too!).  Whatever literature we might be reading, I can pull passages out for close reading (better yet, let the students pull out what they feel are the most important passages for analysis).

Desired Understandings:  The central goal is to create a representation or interpretation of a literary passage in group movement.  This is tricky, as some students will simply want to “retell” the narrative.  Instead, students’ projects need to focus on more abstract concepts related to the craft of writing (meaning, tone, mood, diction, symbolism, theme, etc.) that communicate ideas from the narrative.


  1. Assign student groups a specific passage from a text used in class.
  2. Collaboratively, students discuss how the passage might look if it was written in physical movement rather than words. Students use their discussion to “translate” the passage into movement.
  3. Students plan and present their passage to the class without reading the passage to the audience.
  4. Audience members comment on only what they observe – they can’t ask questions.The presenting group can’t talk, answer questions, or explain choices – they may only listen to the audience’s comments.
  5. Students return to their small groups to discuss their feedback. They revise, edit, and “rewrite” their presentations as needed.
  6. Students read their assigned passage to the class, and then present their revised choreography. A final discussion serves as closure as students discuss artistic choices between the original passage and the performance.


Standard 1: Oral Expression and Listening

  1. Content that is gathered carefully and organized well successfully influences an audience

Effectively operating in small and large groups to accomplish a goal requires active listening

Standard 2:  Reading for All Purposes

  1. The development of new ideas and concepts within informational and persuasive manuscripts
  2. Context, parts of speech, grammar, and word choice influence the understanding of literary, persuasive, and informational texts

Standard 3:  Writing and Composition

  1. Organizational writing patterns inform or persuade an audience

Standard 4:  Research and Reasoning

  1. An author’s reasoning is the essence of legitimate writing and requires evaluating text for validity and accuracy

Assessment:  I use our English department’s Quick Write rubric to assess students’ adaptation of the text.  If needed, I extend the assignment to include a Quick Write in which students explain their movement choices based on the central text, and then use the Quick Write rubric for evaluation.

Adaptions/Accommodations:  I expect all students to do their best in completing the assignment.  If needed, I could have students orally explain their artistic choices for clarity while assessing.