And to be honest, it’s not very exciting as some of the other awesome things you’re doing in your class so it’s easy to feel unsure about it. It’s so easy to feel out of your comfort zone with close reading because parts of it (like not front loading vocabulary anymore) feels uncomfortable. I want to share a few things that have been working in my second grade class.
I’m creating a 5-part Close Reading Series to help you get more comfortable with it in your classroom. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see how powerful and beneficial it is for your students.
Week 1- What is Close Reading and How to Get Started
Week 2- Close Reading in Action in a Primary Classroom
Week 3- Types of Text Dependent Questions
Week 4- After Reading: Extension Activities to tie it all in
Week 5- Your Close Reading Questions Answered
So what is close reading? “A close reading is a careful and purposeful reading. Well actually, it’s rereading. It’s a careful and purposeful rereading of a text. It’s an encounter with the text where students really focus on what the author had to say, what the author’s purpose was, what the words mean, and what the structure of the text tells us. Close reading requires that students actually think and understand what they are reading.” – Dr. Douglas Fisher
Because I know students will struggle productively, you want to choose a short text so that your students aren’t overwhelmed. I stick to one page of text. Be purposeful with the text you are choosing and make it relate to what you are studying in class. Choose something your students will be interested in. Just last month, we were comparing two versions of the same text so naturally, I chose two rigorous fairytales for my students to compare. When choosing text, analyze why it’s complex. Is it the lay out, the vocabulary, the sentence structure? Think what will make it challenging for your students and focus on that!
We typically do our close reading as a whole class. But, my low or non-readers aren’t ready for this just yet so we’ll get started during guided reading. In 2nd grade, students are expected to read between lexile 450-620 at the end of the year. So, I typically choose texts that are above 650 because I know it will be challenging. This can be scary for younger kiddos or struggling readers who are below a lexile of 400, so your job is to support them and facilitate the process without guiding too much. One way I facilitate the process is by leveling our library so my students are working toward their end of the year goal.
I don’t have a ton of extra time to create or search for passages so I swear by Teaching and Tapas Close Reading passages that are organized by standard and have such amazing questions that really make the students think. These have everything you need for a successful close reading lesson.
In our class, we “Read With a Pencil.” It’s encouraged by Fisher and Frey, the close reading gurus.
During the first read, I read the story to my group. This is perfectly ok for K-2. Since the text is meaty, I will read one paragraph at a time. As I’m reading, kiddos circle confusing words and phrases. This is especially important for your English Language Learners (EL). Before, we would activate their schema and go over vocabulary before reading. Not anymore! This was so very much out of my comfort zone as a teacher. Stick with it though!
I want to make close reading easier for you. This bundle has not only made the entire process easier, but made me look awesome in front of my principal because she was blown away by the rigor!