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Close Reading of Loser

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 8 months ago

Part One

In teaching Loser by Jerry Spinelli we open by reading through the chapters and discussing each one. As we finish each chapter, I ask the students to answer a question or two about the information in the chapter.



  • 1. Make a prediction: Based on the title of the book, and after reading the first chapter, what will happen in this story. (1 paragraph)



  • 2. Close Reading: What is Zinkoff doing in chapter 2? Describe this in a couple of sentences.
  • 3. Draw a picture of where Zinkoff runs—this might help you answer question 2.
  • 4. Define: What does “brick-and-hoagie town” mean? (p. 3)



  • 5. Literal meanings: Based on this chapter, how is Zinkoff a loser?

How is this different from the definition you have based on the book’s title?

  • 6. What kinds of games (like the ones described in this chapter) have you played?

Which ones did you win? Which ones did you lose?



  • 7. Context clues: What do you think the word “atwitter” means? (p. 11)



  • 8. Math skills: Use the same equation Miss Meeks used in chapter 5 to find out how many days of school you have left. (Remember to subtract the number of days you’ve spent in this school year.)


After reading these first 5 chapters, have the students (in groups) draw a picture of Zinkoff based on what they thnk he looks like. Tell the students to use information from the story. (There are no physical descriptions of Zinkoff at this point, but the students will have an idea as to what he looks like; encourage them to incorporate images, scenes, dialogues, etc.)




  • 9. Context clue: What do you think the word “legible” means? (p.20)
  • 10. Connect: Imagine you’re a 1st grader and someone just stole your ______(something important_______. What would you do?
  • 11. What type of reading strategy are you using to answer Question 12?
  • 12. Respond: Why do you think Zinkoff is positive all the time? Is this a good attitude to have?



  • 13. Predict: What do you think the word "Jabip," in the title, means?
  • 14. List: Nicknames your parents have given you.




  • 15. Predict: How will Donald and Andrew’s relationship turn out?


Revisit the group drawings--make any changes necessary. While this activity isn't something to focus on, I think it's a good break from reading that will allow the students to work on visualization while also showing the character's motivations, traits, and so on.

Disclaimer: My classes used Literature Circles to compile information from Chapters 9-17. You can, too!




  • 16. Context Clues: Give your best definition fro "spotty" as it's used on p.122. How is this different or similar to "spotty" as in a "spotty dog?"
  • 17. What makes a "best friend" to you?
  • 18. Why do you think Binns is making an earwax candle? What's the point?



  • 19. Context Clues: GIve your best definition for the word "associated." (p.128)




Definition-- simile: A comparison of two completely different things using the words "like" or "as."

Ex: This class is like a herd of elephants.

Ex: The top of my head is like a mirror.


  • 20. Find one simile in chapter 21 (there are several) and copy it into your notes. Label it simile. Describe the comparison. How does the simile change your view of what's being described?




  • 21. Context Clues: Define the word "boisterous." (p. 158)




Definition-- hyperbole: An extreme exaggeration.

  • 22. Find one hyperbole in chapter 23. (A fine example can be found on p. 162) Where else in the book can you find a hyperbole?


  • 23. Context Clues: Define "appoint." (p.168)




Definition-- personification: Giving human characteristics to an inanimate object.

  • 24. On page 170, Spinelli uses personification to define and describe the actions of a snowflake. How does he do this? Make a list of the words and phrases he uses to give the snowflake human characteristics.

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