For this pre-reading activity, I ask students to process literary works using Voyant Tools. My goal in incorporating this activity into my courses is to have students engage with literary texts while reducing the frustration and confusion that often accompany reading at the introductory and intermediate level.
To start, the text will need to be added to the free, online text-analysis website Voyant Tools. If your classroom does not have internet access, if you prefer for your students to work with hard copies, or if you have students that need adapted resources, you may complete the document-upload phase prior to your class session, and print the results for your class.
Once the text is entered into the program and it has generated the results, students use the attached worksheet to complete their preliminary analysis. First, students identify the 10 most frequent terms and define those words. This exposes students to important vocabulary and allows students to generate their own glossary to use when they start reading.
Next, I ask students to categorize the frequent terms by setting, characters, and actions. This invites students to identify connections between specific vocabulary terms in a way that provides additional context for reading comprehension.
Students then use the data from Voyant Tools to think about the tone and structure of the text. As part of their pre-reading activities, the pairs make inferences about the plot and the tone of the work being studied using the words from the word cloud/frequently-occurring-words list.
If students have access to computers in the classroom, it is also helpful to invite them to click on key words. When they click on a word from the word cloud, the program will graph where the words fall within the text. You may indicate to them which words to map or they may explore the patterns within the text autonomously. Based on the location of a given word at the beginning, middle, or end of a text, I invite students to make specific inferences about how the themes develop in the work.