I'll assume that we're talking about fiction, and for starters I would recommend using quote analysis. Quote analysis is certainly nothing new; I used it informally for years before seeing it in a Resource Room lesson plan for Holes a few years back. I like the format presented there; it makes sense, and it's readily internalized by students. (Click on that link above to check out Susan Jones' four steps for yourself).
The activity doesn't end there, of course. This analysis leads to discussion about the character:
- What does this quote tell us about this character's traits?
- Is this behavior consistent with what we've seen so far, or is this a change?
- If the character is changing, what factors or variables are bringing on these changes?
- Think of the audience for this quote. What might be their reaction?
- How does this quote advance the plot?
- What future actions might occur as a result of these words?
- Say the words aloud. Can we "hear" different interpretations of the message depending upon how it's said? (Have students alternately emphasize one word over the others).
Have another idea for Jan's speedy readers? Leave a comment or drop me a line.