Close reading is teaching children to dig deep into portions of text. The text compliments and anchor text or ideas we are teaching. For example, if we are learning about pond life in grade 2 and have an anchor text, we may have an article about the frogs that live there. You may choose to use the article to read closely, and then relate it to the anchor text. You also may choose to pull a couple paragraphs from that anchor text. Reading Closely is an imperative skill for our children. When children encounter complex text they need skills and strategies to conquer the text. Building stamina for reading is important and educators must be aware that we are not creating struggling readers. Allowing children to contintue to struggle through text creates serious problems including:
- Superficial Readers-They read the words they know and do not think deeply about the message if the text.
- Reading Avoiders- These readers do not even try to read the text, they are great listeners in class and may participate in the discussion.
- Fake Readers- These students are experts at looking like readers but watch movies, read summaries, look at images, etc.
- Defeated Strugglers- These students try hard to read and understand the text, but can not make sense of it. Therefore, they give up.
Penny Kittle on Creating High Schoolers who do not read.
Penny Kittle on Creating Lifelong Readers.
Reading closely is a skill that students need and should be modeled in whole group, then to guided practice. When the studnets are ready, they could do it independently (scaffold your instruction). It is usually readings of a text following this structure:
1. Students read text cold for key ideas and details - get the gist. This allows you to see what they already know. Do not front load. ( your purpose or planned text dependent question is usually altered after this read- it is a good pre-assessment opportunity)
2. Select a section of the text that may pose difficulty or deeper thought. Give them a purpose for reading (text dependent). Reread, then discuss with partner or small group, looking at author's choices (craft) and organization of text and determining the purpose for those choices. IE: vocabulary, text structure, text features, audience, text/topic connections
3. Reread and go deeper with a pencil/highlighter. This is where you synthesize and analyze information from all of the text involved in the lesson. You will require conversation, graphic organizers, arguments, journaling, etc at this point. You will be using the marked up text to cite evidence and make your claims.
We use these elements:
*short passages and excerpts that can be marked up with a pencil
*limited prereading activities
*reread with purpose (text dependent questions given by teacher)
*bringing attention to things that are confusing, not overlooking them
You are teaching children to interact with the text and each other. It is a very social activity in our classrooms.
Notice and Note is an excellent resource for teaching close reading. Beers and Probst explain how to use SignPosts for close reading.
This link will lead you to a series of Youtube videos from the authors of Notice and Note, an excellent resource on teaching close reading.
Videos on Close Reading: