Tag Archives: Falling in Love With Close Reading

Newspapers: Are they biased / unbiased?


You may have an answer for that question in the title.  But do you know for sure?  Definitely?  Unequivocally?  How did you research this issue?

The possibilities for bias in text are endless because text is all around us.  Literally and loosely, text is the scenery around us whether it is print or not.  The texts that comprise our daily lives may include a variety of print or non-print sources including electronic emails, blogs, newspapers, magazines and books.  I want to focus on one of those – the writing found in news sources, typically in newspapers and how we can help students examine that question as they continue to build their reading skills for life.

Standards Addressed:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6  –  Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9  –  Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.5  –  Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
One event. Three articles. Three different stories.  

How do you know whether the news is being reported or if the news is being shaped by the authors and publishers?  Let’s investigate further!

To begin, we will just look at the pictures from the three stories:

la-afp-getty-obama-meets-with-leaders-of-honduras-20140725

U.S. President Obama disembarks from Air Force One as he arrives at Los Angeles International Airportfox pic

What do you know?  What do you wonder?  

(Questions from What Readers Really Do:  Teaching the Process of Meaning Making by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton)

Hold onto those thoughts as you look at the titles.  (And the titles are NOT listed in the same order as the pictures!)

Titles

“Obama tells Central American leaders most children will go home”

“GOP lawmakers fight plan to bring more illegal immigrant children to military bases”

“White House pursuing plan to expand immigrant rights”

What do you know?  What do you wonder?

What theories are you now ready to begin building?

The sources in alphabetical order are:  Fox News, LA Times, and Reuters

Which sources go with which pictures and article titles?  Are you already considering revising your theory?  That process of continually questioning and researching based on what you know and wonder allows a reader to demonstrate flexible thinking.  Thinking really is one essential by-product of the “act of reading and understanding printed messages.”

What words/phrases do you notice in the opening paragraphs of the article covering the same event – news about immigrant children on this date?  Read and jot notes about those words.

Opening paragraphs in the LA Times:

 “Even as President Obama grapples with the crisis of immigrant children arriving at the Southwest border, White House officials are laying the groundwork for a large-scale expansion of immigrant rights that would come by executive action within weeks.

Officials signaled strongly Friday that Obama’s move would shield from deportation large numbers of immigrants living in the country illegally, as advocacy groups have demanded.” (LA Times, 7/26/14)

 

The same story from Reuters begins this way:

“President Barack Obama urged the leaders of three Central American countries on Friday to work with him to stem the flow of child migrants who have surged across the U.S. border and warned that most of them would not be allowed to stay.

In a White House meeting with the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Obama had a tough-love message: his administration had compassion for the children, but not many would qualify for humanitarian relief or refugee status. Many of the migrants have fled poverty and crime at home.” (Reuters, 7/26/14)

 

And the third story from Fox News begins with:

“Republican lawmakers are challenging the Obama administration over a newly announced plan to expand the use of U.S. military bases to house illegal immigrant children, warning that it will put a strain on troops and threaten military readiness.

The Pentagon confirmed this week that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services to house an additional 5,000 minors at DOD facilities.”

 

Do you notice any patterns?  What are you wondering about at this time?

There are many ways to continue reading these articles.  The length is conducive to having each student read all three, but a student may only be an “expert” on the actual writing techniques used in one or two of the articles.  Do remember that it is sometimes easier to analyze two articles through simultaneous comparing and contrasting rather than just one article by itself.

 

I was wondering about the “experts” and the sources of quotes within the articles.  Who does each author use?

LA Times:

“Obama said last month that because Congress had failed to act on comprehensive immigration reform, he would take executive action to ‘fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own.'”

“When the decision is announced, it will ‘increase the angry reactions from Republicans,’ Peiffer said.” (White House senior advisor – two other quotes as well)

 

Reuters:

“‘There may be some narrow circumstances in which there is a humanitarian or refugee status that a family might be eligible for,’ Obama said after talks with the leaders. ‘But I think it’s important to recognize that that would not necessarily accommodate a large number.'” (plus two more quotes by President Obama

President Juan Orland Hernandez of Honduras,  “’They have rights, and we want them to be respected,’ he said.”

“‘The idea here is that in order to deter them from making that dangerous journey, we’d set up a system in coordination with these host countries to allow those claims to be filed in that country without them having to make that dangerous journey,’ said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.”

 

Fox News:

paraphrased information (no quotes in article)”The Pentagon confirmed that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel . . . request from Dept. of Health and Human Services. . . “

Direct quote – “Donelle Harder, a spokeswoman for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., told FoxNews.com.”

“Alabama lawmakers . . . ‘ongoing talks’ . . .  . . . “Alabama GOP Reps. Martha Roby and Mike Rogers ” . . . . ‘The housing, feeding and caring of immigration detainees would severely compromise the critical mission at Maxwell-Gunter,’ they wrote.” (also a second quote)

“Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., said the request poses a very real threat to U.S. military readiness,’ noting the base is the ‘primary artillery training center for troops before deployment.'” (second quote also)

 

What might instruction/inquiry look like at this point?  

I might begin to model comparing specific words and phrases that were used in the articles and also begin to discuss the sources. Which words/phrases seem to be the most simple form of reporting (without opinions/emotions) in comparison to words or phrases that seem to have been chosen for their emotional nuances?  What could those comparisons look like?

Paint chips, a visual way to show the progression of vocabulary words, could be used.  Students in 1:1 districts could simply create these using a chart and add color gradations to the boxes.  Or students could consider how to use “shapes” to show the different layers of word meanings / nuances or  phrases and words that explicitly provide evidence of the biases and or point of view of the reporters/publishers. Words could then be added as text boxes inside each color.

Screenshot 2014-08-03 07.20.46

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For additional discussion or to see an explanation of this vocabulary activity, see Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 Teacher of the Year, at the Teaching Channel here.

 

If you have not yet googled the articles, here is the link to each one where all advertisements have been stripped courtesy of the readability app (with more information here):

Fox News

LA Times 

Reuters

 

So what are some other choices?

If you are a devotee of “Falling in Love with Close Reading” by Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts, you may have been thinking of all the connections between the lenses of text evidence, vocabulary and point of view!  That would be another way to conduct a close reading of these articles in order to see how they were “reported differently”.

Or, if you are interested in adding in some writing, you might have partner groups of students “summarize” their article in two or three sentences while asking them to include evidence that will help them “defend” their summary as “The Best Summary”.

OR you might consider this question - Can you predict how additional topics will be “covered/handled” by Fox News, LA Times and Reuters?  After making your prediction (and writing it down), pick a topic, pull up the three different articles and see if your predictions are accurate!

Or consider where your own local newspaper fits within this “range” or reporting!

 

Does every text that you read contain some bias?  What do you think?  What would you need to do to unequivocally answer that?

 

ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.

Reflecting on 2013


After a very, very family-filled holiday break and ten days without using my laptop, it’s back to “thinking” about professional development for the next two work days.  But I would be remiss in moving straight to the list of upcoming events, if I did not slow down and consider the data from last year.

Top 10 posts on my blog (by number of readers):

1. Close Reading in Kindergarten? Is it Possible?
2. Close Reading: “The Ultimate Goal”
3. Common Core: Are you allowed to make “connections” in a close reading?
4. Readers’ Notebooks: Assessing, Goal-Setting, and Planning Instruction
5. How do I choose text for Close Reading?
6. Close Reading Informational Text? Absolutely!
7. Lexile Level Is NOT Text Complexity CCSS.R.10
8. Fitting the Puzzle Pieces of Close Reading Together
9. TCRWP: Performance Assessments in Reading
10. CCSS and Writing: The Path to Accelerating Achievement

In rereading those entries, I found that eight of the ten were posted in late June – September with only #3 and #5 before that time frame.  Interesting for me to note that all of the top 10 were about reading and writing and not necessarily about “resources” which was my original thought for this blog!

Book chats on twitter or in blogs during 2013:

  • Units of Study in Writing (Lucy Calkins and friends – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project) #tcrwp
  • Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts – and Life! (Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts) #filwclosereading
  • What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making (Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse) #wrrdchat
  • Notice and Note (Kylene Beers and Robert Probst) #NNN
  • Teach Like a Pirate (Dave Burgess) #educoach
  • Visible Learning for Teachers:  Maximizing Learning (John Hattie) #educoach
  • Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction (Jim Knight) #educoach

My Twitter Video from 2013 (Have you tried this at #visify? https://www.vizify.com/twitter-video):

https://www.vizify.com/fran-mcveigh/twitter-video?s=twitter&u=504984&f=1414&t=share_follow_me_video

Goals for 2014?

Still pondering where my focus will be!  As a teacher/learner I found that 2013 was a year of growth in deeper understanding of reading and writing and the reciprocal nature of both. Continuing to write and “practice” author’s craft while I listen more to the learners (students and teachers) will also remain on my radar!  Stay tuned for more specific 2014 goals!

Welcome, 2014!

What are your goals?

Follow up Chat: “Falling in Love with Close Reading”


It’s hard to believe that it has almost been a month since we had an online Twitter chat about Kate Roberts and Chris Lehman’s book, Falling in Love with Close Reading. Join us (Allison Jackson @azajacks and Laura Komos @laurakomos) tomorrow night for a follow up chat from 6:30-7:30 pm EST under the #FILWCloseReading hashtag.

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Haven’t read the book?

A sample is available here: http://heinemann.sites.hubspot.com/falling-in-love-with-close-reading-sample

Wonder what we will chat about?

The questions for our chat are available here:  goo.gl/yIkmQG

Will @teachkate and @ichrislehman be joining the chat?

Not on 12/9/2013 – They are speaking about their book all day long in New York!

Is Close Reading killing the love of reading for you and your students?

Then you really need to be on Twitter (tweetchat or tweetdeck) to follow #FILWCloseReading Monday, 12/9/13 to listen to a “different view” of close reading that will excite you and your students! We will be looking forward to seeing you!

 

Archive of chat = storify.com/LauraKomos/fil…

In Love with “Close Reading”


Our Twitter chat celebrating Falling in Love with Close Reading on November 11, 2013 was fabulous, and I must thank co-moderators Allison Jackson and Laura Komos (@azajacks @laurakomos) for their question development, organization, tweeting in advance, and storifying the chat afterwords.  Of course, Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts (@ichrislehman  @teachkate) brought a crowd to the chat with their participation.  My sincerest thanks to ALL participants and readers because deep understanding is necessary in order to ensure that ALL of our students can read, do read and YES, love to read!

The last few months have been a personal quest for knowledge about close reading.  I read Tim Shanahan’s blog regularly (although I don’t always agree) and I began with his model for close reading with his “three step process” outlined here. However, I felt this process was stiff, clunky, and was confusing to students who began to say, “Do we really have to read this three times?  Just give me all the questions now!”

I had to admit that process was not working in my own reading.  Sometimes two reads were sufficient while at other times, it seemed like 10 reads was just beginning to scrape the surface for the “right meaning.”

I loved Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s view of close reading in  Text Complexity, Raising Rigor in Reading when they shared that close reading should come in texts of varying lengths and was not a daily diet requirement as referenced here.  And then the signposts from Notice and Note (Kylene Beers and Bob Probst) were next to receive my scrutiny as a book chat and facebook page sprang up!  The language of the signposts made so much sense to students and teachers across the country, and one more entry point into “close reading” was revealed!

In June/July 2013, I attended both the Writing Institute and the Reading Institute at Teachers College in New York City. I learned what I had feared – that I really had not yet understood the impact and the grade level standards for the Common Core State Standards (and, yes, I was a “hick from the sticks”).  The demonstrations at #tcrwp convinced me that I had not yet begun to grasp the possibilities for depth and scope in “close reading.”  Each demonstration was different as the definition of text broadened.  Mary Ehrenworth  brilliantly provided a “mini-PD format” for Close Reading, for use in our own buildings, that included a poem and two song videos.  Kate Roberts passionately used video and text to illustrate the necessity of close reading for point of view in nonfiction text and I was captivated.  When the pending publication of Falling in Love with Close Reading was announced at the June Writing Institute, I immediately pre-ordered it.

And then September arrived and Chris and Kate began the Close Reading Blog-a-thon where Chris unveiled this definition which again stretched my understanding:

“Close reading is when a reader independently stops at moments in a text (or media or life) to reread and observe the choices an author has made. He or she reflects on those observations to reach for new understandings that can color the way the rest of the book is read (or song heard or life lived) and thought about.”   Sept. 2, 2013

My learning journey continued as I read brilliant posts that added to the collective blog-a-thon and my understanding and I did sigh in relief a couple of times when I discovered that I was not “way off base” in my thinking.  What was so monumental?  That one word – “independently” was a showstopper!  Up until that point, I had wrestled with how to move to deeper understanding with wisdom from Vicki Vinton and my mates at #WRRDchat (What Readers Really Do by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton).  The simplicity of “Know / Wonder” charts and looking for patterns has stayed with me as I work with students and teachers to build independence in understanding what readers and writers really do.

And then the book arrived.  From Donalyn Miller’s first words about The Velveteen Rabbit in the Foreword to the closing pages of the Resources, this book is dedicated to “falling in love.” It is not just about “reading at school” but is truly a ritual for reading life.

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I immediately began to tweet out some of my favorite quotes as I quickly discovered that the three part ritual described by Kate in June was at the heart of the entire book.  Close Reading is not about interrogating students with text dependent questions although it is about the “Five Corners of Text.”  That ritual is simply and elegantly:

      1. Read through lenses
      2. Use lenses to find patterns
      3. Use the patterns to develop a new understanding of the text

In love with the book, twitter conversations began.  @laurakomos proposed a chat and we were asking the authors to set a date to chat with their readers. Documents were created and blog posts announced the chat.

Our Twitter Chat was a fun hour + with laughs (jinxed comments), gnashing of teeth (at some policies) and a whole lot of love, passion, respect and celebration of the close reading rituals that Chris and Kate propose in Falling in Love with Close Reading – Lessons for Analyzing Texts –  and Life.  You can check out the archive here.

Nurturing this love of close reading is going to be important if it really is going to be built on student independence.  Teachers will need to consider and balance:  types of texts read by the teacher, types of texts read by the students, complexity of student thinking, complexity of texts students are reading independently, balancing genres, balancing levels of challenge and length of texts.  Careful thought and planning will be required in order to meet this goal from the book:

“Equally, move freely between analyzing texts, media and life.”  (p. 124)  The dream is for student independence and where you lead (especially by modeling), the students will follow for the rest of their lives!

Thanks, Chris and Kate, for such powerful learning and for sharing your ritual with your readers so students may grow in independence as they close read their minutes, hours, days, and lives!

How are you close reading your life?  
How are you nurturing “independence” in student close reading?  
How will you know that students are independently close reading their lives?  
Let’s continue the conversation!

Twitter Chat: #FILWCloseReading 11.11.13 from 6-7 pm EST


Readers, Close Readers, Friends, Followers,

For my post honoring a full year of blogging, it is my pleasure to announce a Twitter Chat for Falling in Love with Close Reading  Lessons for Analyzing Texts and Life to be held on Monday, November 11, 2013 from 6-7 pm EST (some of us work on Veteran’s Day :-( ).

The authors @ichrislehman and @teachkate will be joining us for that chat!

Our hashtag will be #FILWCloseReading.

TWO WEEKS!

What can you do during the next two weeks in order to “get ready” for the chat?

To prepare for the chat:

  • Read the book:  Falling in Love with Close Reading Lessons for Analyzing Texts – and Life

  • Don’t have the book? Read a sample from the book available here at Heinemann.

  • Revisit the Close Reading Blog-a-thon and read the many blog posts available

  • Continue Learning!

    We will be talking about the “ritual” for teaching close reading that is the result of “loving the author’s craft” not a “must-do, lock-step procedure” that spans days of instruction for a two page story!

11/6/13
Questions for the chat can be found here  http://goo.gl/2HXOwi
Link to chart for lesson ideas and please contribute texts that you have used.

Falling in Love with Close Reading


Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts have written a masterful text, Falling in Love with Close Reading Lessons for Analyzing Texts – and Life. My interest in their book was heightened by the seven week blog-a-thon that led up to the publication date.  My hope was that the book would enable me to really dig in, with teachers and students, to make close reading simple, easy, and understandable.  Remember that Chris defined close reading in his blog post as:

“Close reading is when a reader independently stops at moments in a text (or media or life) to reread and observe the choices an author has made. He or she reflects on those observations to reach for new understandings that can color the way the rest of the book is read (or song heard or life lived) and thought about.”   Sept. 2, 2013

Now that I have finished reading the book, I stand at a crossroads.  It is not going to be simple, easy and understandable YET!

Where do I begin?  Do I need to go back and check the level of understanding with text evidence?  What about word choice?  Structure?  Point of View? Across Texts?

My plan this morning:  Begin at the beginning and go back to CCR Reading Anchor Standard 1 because it is complicated and tricky!

  1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

This will mean that I will be reviewing both teacher and student actions, talk and thinking in order to determine when, where, and why students are independently using evidence to increase understanding of texts and lives.  Then based on student data the plan will develop.  (But for me personally, I am going to be using the lessons in the book to study, think, and reflect on text evidence, word choice, structure, point of view, and across texts.  I will be working on this all year!   I need to increase my own skills and knowledge at a variety of grade levels and content areas beyond ELA!)

What have you read closely lately?  Check out the link below if you were not following the blog-a-thon or if you have not yet decided to study close reading.

close reading button

Ultimate Goal for Close Reading =  Close Reading Your Life – Kate Roberts at #tcrwp Summer Institute

Is Conversation a Critical Component of Close Reading?


Is it possible?  Or is increased conversation (and or writing) a wonderful, unexpected result of close reading?

“Close reading is when a reader independently stops at moments in a text (or media or life) to reread and observe the choices an author has made. He or she reflects on those observations to reach for new understandings that can color the way the rest of the book is read (or song heard or life lived) and thought about.” (Lehman, Sept. 2, 2013)

As week six of the “Close Reading Blog-a-thon” winds down, I spent some time re-reading some of the earlier posts.  What was I searching for?  Was it deeper knowledge about specific blog content or was it the search for new understanding?

Patterns became evident as I found a variety of texts and life situations that included:  books, chapters, articles, paragraphs, pictures, artwork, maps, schedules, interview results and community signs. Within these, point of view is readily apparent by what bloggers choose to include (thank you, Kate) and the structures used (thank you, Chris). My initial rereading goal was to study the myriad of informational text styles and structures present in the excellent blogs.

But the biggest aha for me, was the fact that close reading conversations ensued and both conversations and writing increased!  I commented on posts as I nodded my head in agreement while reading.  I mentally composed posts on my drive to work. I found myself writing posts to respond to Kate, Chris and of course Vicki Vinton.  Ideas that had been “mulling around in my brain” seemed to crystalize and flow from my keyboard.  And I even had internal conversations with myself during close reading!

In my personal journey over the last eight months to understand “close reading” and CCR Anchor Standard #1, it has been a combination of reading, writing, and conversations that has increased my understanding.  The conversations in my head as well as those in  person, or comments on blogs, and even as whole posts to respond to blogs have been helpful to me. Conversations have extended my learning and deepened my understanding.

Were the conversations necessary as part of close reading or were they what happened after the close reading?  This question made my head spin as I compared it to the inevitable “Which comes first?  The chicken or The Egg?  Or does it really even matter in the bigger scheme of life?

Are conversations a “Critical Component” or an “End Result” of close reading?  What do you think?   ALL conversations welcome!

close reading button

Close Reading Informational Text? Absolutely!


Back in March, I addressed the topic, “How do I choose text for Close Reading?”   After my “close reading” as a part of this blog-a-thon,  I am comforted by the knowledge that my thinking just six short months ago was not “totally wrong!”  However, I continue to admit that my learning experiences at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project have changed many of my perceptions about literacy learning, specifically the grade level expectations for reading and writing under the Common Core/Iowa Core! This is all a work in progress and is often messy!

I believe that students and teachers must use informational text for close reading as described by Chris Lehman in post # 5 here.  The substance of “instruction” for that close reading will depend on the grade level reading standards for informational text.  In other words, the lens for “patterns” could include any of the reading anchor standards, but the ones I am currently considering for lesson development include:  vocabulary (# 4), point of view (# 6), argument (# 7) and multiple texts (# 9).  Are these more important?  No, but they are ones that I feel a need to explore to build my own knowledge and skill via some “extra practice.”

The “evidence” that I am using to support my claim is from the Core documents and includes the percentages of informational  text reading across the day for all grades as well as the percentages of informational/explanatory writing across the day.  Those are detailed in the following two charts.  Do they look familiar?

Range of Text for Reading:

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Range of Text for  Writing:

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When will students and teachers work on close reading?

It depends. Much of the informational text instruction may begin in ELA, Science and Social Studies (but probably not all) in the upper grades.  Students will benefit from learning from the “content experts” whose expertise will guide the focus to read and understand like scientists and historians. Some districts and staff may find it “easy” to have staff work collaboratively to address close reading in a variety of content areas including “Technical Content.”  However, starting with a small core group studying and considering thoughtful applications of close reading as well as possible pitfalls will help provide coordination for the student learning environment (so students will not be “close reading” every period every day!)

What length of text will be used?

It depends.  Many of the beginning texts will be short pieces.  However, some full texts will be considered through the use of “Know – Wonder” charts like the one used for Because of Winn-Dixie as described by Vicki Vinton here. Longer pieces of informational text will also be considered if they meet the instructional purposes.  Varying lengths of material were supported by Doug Fisher here because they do allow the reader to become the “fifth corner” as proposed by Kate Roberts because the goal is “understanding what the author is saying and then comparing that with our own experiences and beliefs” (p.108).  We also remember that our goal is that our students will BE readers and writers (not just read and write)!

How is text defined?

Text types are evolving.  Texts are no longer limited to passages with words, sentences, and paragraphs.  What are the texts that will be part of “reading” for students for the rest of their lives?  It is hard to predict the “form” for future texts. The following forms will be considered for close reading:  artwork, video, commercials, pictures, signs, songs, magazines, digital sources AND books! (and examples of student and teacher writing)

Does this match your picture of “close reading of informational text?”  What would you do differently?

close reading button

Fitting the Puzzle Pieces of Close Reading Together


21054105-3d-illustration-of-man-on-puzzle-piece-joining-group-of-people-3d-rendering-of-people--human-charact

   (Photo: 123RF    #21054105)

The Blog-A-Thon for Close Reading hosted by Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts has resulted in thoughtful conversations around two words in CCSS Reading Anchor Standard #1.  We are all eagerly awaiting elaboration from Chris and Kate’s book ‘Falling in Love With Close Readingthat will add to our knowledge  Blog posts have discussed close reading as a noun, a verb and with very specific cautions about being very careful to not destroy “the love of reading.”

So, a quick review that close reading is:

  • Not every story
  • Not dragging a two page story out to a week’s worth of lessons
  • Not 999 text dependent questions
  • Not the teacher scaffolding the work all the time
  • Not the students being ‘assigned’ text to read and reread and reread
  • Not a scripted procedure
  • Not surface learning
  • Not limited by the four corners of the page
  • Not worksheets
  • Not independent reading
  • Not scripted lesson plans
  • Not just a “school activity “
  • Not isolated work with the CCSS reading standards one at a time
  • Not always rereading three times
  • Not . . .

In the first post for the Blog-A-Thon, Chris told us last week that:

“Close reading is when a reader independently stops at moments in a text (or media or life) to reread and observe the choices an author has made. He or she reflects on those observations to reach for new understandings that can color the way the rest of the book is read (or song heard or life lived) and thought about.”

Which words or phrases caused you to stop, pause, or reread as you read that definition?

Or (gasp!), did you tell yourself that you had already read that definition last week so you just kinda, sorta glossed over it?  Did you notice any “patterns?”

Inherent in this definition is the belief that the reader will read like an author while observing the author’s choices within text, media or life.  That means that the reader will probably “know and wonder” (Barnhouse & Vinton, What Readers Really Do) or “notice and note” (Beers & Probst, Notice and Note:  Strategies for Close Reading) as he/she traces patterns from the text.  Pattern tracing may evolve through the use of post-its, reading notebook entries or even on chart paper or interactive white boards.  Student reflection on the meaning of the pattern would seem to be essential for “new understandings” to be constructed!

What routine(s) should be used?

The routine that the reader uses will be based on teacher instruction explicitly designed for independent application by the reader.  The instructional format may include conversations about the “stance” or lens that the student is using to view the text:  text evidence, word choice, structure, or figurative language.  But it could also involve the lens of “character development and change over time.” (CCSS Reading Anchor #3 – Scroll down to the chart about “lonely characters and then go back to read the blog for the chart context.“)  In the search for a theme (CCSS Reading Anchor #2), the lens could be the signpost “Again and Again” (Beers & Probst) or  “Searching for Meaning”in Dea Conrad-Curry’s post.

Desired outcome =  students independently and capably engaged in close reading of text, media and life 

The path for instruction may be varied but it has to include authentic reading experiences.  At times instruction may be inquiry with the teacher carefully observing students and the patterns they discover in their reading.  At other points a more direct instructional framework may be Fisher and Frey’s  gradual release of responsibility that includes:  productive group work, guided instruction, focus lesson (including modeling), and independent work until the ultimate goal of close reading and “constructing new understanding” is TOTALLY dependent on the text and the student!

So how do we get to our final destination?

Observe the current status of our students.  Provide explicit instruction that will “nudge” students to reach new understanding.  Continue to “construct” meaning – not just identify it.  Use the phrase, “Tell me more” instead of a barrage of questions.  Sometimes the learning path will be whole class, small group or 1:1, but the journey needs to begin now.  It’s 2013 and we can improve instruction and student learning as we work and learn together with a sense of urgency that will propel student thinking beyond current levels!

We read forward and think backward, making within-text connections to notice patterns” (Barnhouse & Vinton, p.113) as we “trust student talk around texts to support our thinking goals” (p. 122).  Reading, observing, talking, thinking about text, media, and life will help construct meaning and fit the puzzle pieces together!

It’s complicated!  It’s messy! And close reading is definitely a big puzzle with no ONE right way to accomplish it!

http://christopherlehman.wordpress.com/oddsends/we-are-closely-reading-close-reading/

Close Reading in Kindergarten? Is it Possible?


close reading button

“The CCSS are too hard.”

“The CCSS are not developmentally appropriate.”

“The CCSS have pushed many skills down into the primary grades before students are ready to tackle such difficult texts.”

As of 09.02.13 according to Chris Lehman:

“Close reading is when a reader independently stops at moments in a text (or media or life) to reread and observe the choices an author has made. He or she reflects on those observations to reach for new understandings that can color the way the rest of the book is read (or song heard or life lived) and thought about.”

Check out that link above the definition for the original blog post with foundational understandings of close reading built upon the work of Patricia Kain, Doug Fisher, Kylene Beers and Bob Probst.  More information will also be available in Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts soon to be released text, Falling in Love with Close Reading.  Some of those beliefs about the ultimate goal of close reading from a Teachers College presentation by Kate Roberts are also found in an earlier blog post of my own found here.

Thinking about misconceptions . . .

Is close reading appropriate for kindergarten and first grade students?

It would appear that #CCSS expert Tim Shanahan believes that close reading is not appropriate in the primary grades.  In his blog post from Tuesday, July 16, 2013, Shanahan responds to a reader’s request as follows:

Close Reading for Beginning Readers? Probably Not.

“I am a first grade teacher. My principal has mandated that all classes K-5 do Close Reading. Is it appropriate for all ages? It seems to me that the texts at K/1 are not likely to be complex enough and that the students at this age are too concrete in their thinking.”

Response:

“Good question. I share your concerns. There are very few articles or stories appropriate for K/1 that would make any sense for close reading. The content usually just isn’t deep enough to bear such close study (and, frankly, if you look at the comprehension standards themselves, specifically standards #4-9 for those grades, it should be evident that CCSS doesn’t envision particularly close reading at these levels).”

But if we base our work on the definition above and in Chris’s post, I believe that “close reading” is possible for kindergarten and first grade students.  Will it be easy?  No!  Will all students get it?  Not, YET!

Teachers will have to carefully craft their instruction in order to allow students to “independently” have the opportunity to look for patterns.  After reading Dorothy Barnhouse and Vickie Vinton’s What Readers Really Do, I continue to believe that beginning students can engage in the thinking necessary for “close reading.”

My example:  
The teacher uses No, David! by David Shannon as mentor text and reads it to the class.  She models her thinking as she reveals patterns and encourages the students to also think about the patterns that were included.  On another day, the teacher will provide time for the students to read David Goes to School and David Gets in Trouble.  The teacher will invite the students in partner groups to search for patterns for “Know, Wonder” charts.  Questions will not be used to interrogate the students.  Students will be invited to “tell me more . . .”  Students will be encouraged to think about the patterns that the teacher revealed about relationships between the words and the illustrations that David Shannon used in No, David!  Because some of our kindergartners have been in session for three weeks, I think we can develop additional “Know, Wonder” charts and check for students who are “close reading” as they search for patterns in the books they are reading.  Students who are able to explain their thinking about the patterns and draw inferences to similarities across multiple texts (especially if they point to the matching pages) will be providing evidence of their “close reading.”

Common Core Grade Level Reference

RL.K.(7-9) Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
RL.K.7 – With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).(Goal – Students will complete this goal without prompting and support after appropriate instruction and opportunities to practice tracing patterns.)
What do you think?  Is this close reading?  Or is this another misconception?

Check out this link:  Close Reading in Kindergarten – Advertisements  (Added 02.23.14)

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