Thursday, January 28, 2016

Close Reading: What's it all About?

Great post on how to incorporate close reading in the classroom. What it looks like, what it is, and why it's so important for beginning readers.

There's been a lot of buzz lately about close reading. Have you wondered-What's it all about? or How in the world am I possibly going to add ANOTHER thing in our already jam-packed day?

I get it.

I totally do.

I began implementing close reading in my classroom about 2 years ago and it has been a well worthwhile investment. I wouldn't say that I have to "make time for it" as much as it has become a natural and inclusive part of our learning- during reading, science, social studies and even math (as we learn how to solve addition/subtraction word problems).

So what IS close reading exactly?

Close Reading is a central focus of the Common Core Standards. It involves getting the reader to truly dig in deeper to the text. By doing so, the reader is to reach a deeper understanding of the text and to solidify their reading comprehension.

Sometimes I do close reading in small groups (guided reading groups) and sometimes we do it as a large group.

I project the text on our SMARTboard.

I read the text aloud and my students follow along.  We discuss any tricky words in the text and we place them in a pocket chart to determine what those tricky words are, what they mean, and what they represent.

Then we read the text again.  This time, I choose student volunteers to read one or two lines.  In the beginning, only my "high flyers" wanted to read aloud.  As the school year progresses more and more students want to participate which is so great to see!  I love their improving confidence!

We then read the text a third time, and this is the fun part- this is the part the kid's love!  This is when we pick apart the text and decide what is important information.  We highlight, underline, circle words, and draw boxes around words and phrases.

By the time we are done, our reading passage has definitely been closely read.

Close reading is the reading and re-reading of text to gather meaning. This is a crucial concept for growing readers.
I hear it all the time from parents - that their child is reading chapter books, that the books in their book boxes are too easy for them and they truly understand what they are reading? Students need to learn to pull key information from text to analyze, reflect, compare, and contrast.  They will needs these skills in their adult lives too as need to read for meaning and understanding, as well as for pleasure.
Close reading produces deeper understanding.  Here are some key things to keep in mind when implementing close reading in your classroom:
1. Use small reading passages. This is especially important
when you are looking to engage a larger audience at
varying reading levels. When reading in smaller groups,
differentiated text is helpful for targeting specific reading levels.
Also, you don't want to overwhelm students.  Analyzing
text deeply takes a lot of "brain work." The text doesn't
need to be lengthy to be valuable. 
2. Work for Independence. Scaffold the reading of the
text so that you are gradually releasing the reading
responsibility to the students.  You read, then they
read. By modeling for them first, they will learn
from you how to navigate difficult words and phrases,
fluency, and how to analyze the text.
3.Teach students to reflect upon the text. Encourage
them to dig deeper, ask questions, and infer. What
is the author trying to tell you?  What can you understand?
What are you confused about? Encourage students
to observe and analyze the text. What does the
author want you to understand in this passage?
What seems important here? Why?
4. Read the text multiple times. Too often students
think or say "I already read it." Teach them that
by reading and re-reading text you can often obtain
new information that you didn't catch the first time. 
Questions you originally may have had could be
answered and key details can be found. Also, many times
students are able to make a connection to text that they
have read more than once as they gain a deeper
understanding of what they have read.
Close reading skills start with beginning readers. This Close Reading MEGA Bundle has been reduced in price and it is a great resource for incorporating close reading in the classroom. 
Topics included in this bundle are:
     -Zoo and Safari Animals
     -American Symbols
     -Armed Forces
     -Martin Luther King
I always love hearing from you!  Are you using close reading in your classroom?  Are you going to start? Please leave me a comment. I'd love to know what you do in your classroom.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE your new blog design - it's AMAZING! I also love all this info. about close reading - especially the part about keeping the text short. Happy weekend!