Student Work

Scopes Trial: Think Aloud 1

Watch Sarah do a close reading of the New York Times article:

Sarah begins reading the New York Times article and pays close attention to each of the words in the document. She recognizes that the reporter is trying to paint a picture with words, and she asks herself, 'what picture is this reporter painting and why?'

Sarah understands that she must ask two questions of a text: What does it say? And what does it do? In this case, the text is saying that a lot of Tennesseans came to watch the trial. However, it does much more. It paints a picture of Dayton from the perspective of an urban New Yorker. Sarah figures out what the text is doing by paying close attention to the words that the reporter uses.

Though Sarah doesn't recognize the words 'cranks and freaks,' she assumes they are "associated with badness." Likewise, she notes that the reporter writes that 'strange creeds and theories are preached and sung. . . .' She comments that the text is "basically saying that it's strange that they don't speak normally when they go places." Finally, she observes the reporter's use of the word 'village' and the image of the courthouse. All of these words paint a picture of a small, "primitive," provincial town, where the people are "funny and you can't really take them seriously."

Sarah reads slowly and carefully and considers the images conjured by the written words. But she doesn't stop there. Sarah recognizes that the words were written by a human being, a reporter, who had an opinion about Dayton and its inhabitants. By reading carefully, Sarah hears that the reporter is "kind of laughing at the over-religious South."