Monthly Archives: March, 2013

Common Core: “Close Reads” are not the final goal!

Common Core Reading Anchor Standard (K-12) says:

“R.CCR.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.”

What am I going to do?  Read closely

Why?  To determine what the author says both explicitly (the words in the text) and to make logical inferences when the author wants me to think beyond the written words

That is an explanation/interpretation of JUST the beginning of Reading Standard # 1!

The last part says, “Cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.”  So I think this means that I will use the textual evidence whenever I am writing or speaking to support those inferences or conclusions drawn from the text.  Darn.  That means that my conclusions have to be based on the text; I cannot just “dream them up out of thin air.”

Complicated?  Absolutely!


Close reading is what I am going to do! It is probably going to mean that I am re-reading part of a paragraph or page of text to check my understanding.  And if I can cite specific words or phrases in the text, my conclusion or inference is probably fairly accurate.

Will my thinking match the author’s perfectly?  I doubt it!  But that’s okay.  The goal of close reading is to have “increased understanding” because I have read the text closely.

These two tweets from the Michigan Reading Association on Sunday, March 10, 2013, on the topic of “close reading” caught my eye.

@hmjensen31:  Close reading may be a necessary, but insufficient type of reading. Cannot stop there. Serafini #mra13″

“@yaloveblog  Student says close reading helps organize her thoughts. #mra13

What do those two tweets say explicitly? And what inferences can you make as the reader? What is your end goal for “close reading”? (Please add your thoughts below!)


What are the qualities of a Reading Teacher?

What does a reading teacher need to know?
Every state certainly has certification requirements that list coursework and or experiences that are required.  But is knowledge enough?
With the implementation of the Iowa Core/Common Core, teachers need a deep understanding of all the English Language Arts Anchor and Grade Level Standards.  That includes the 10 Standards for Reading Literature and Informational Text, the 10 Writing Standards, the 6 Speaking and Listening Standards and the 6 Language Standards. Why? Because those grade-level standards are the  learning progressions that are used to build the daily learning targets that provide the focus for instruction.
What are some other qualities Reading Teachers need?
  • A love of books!
  • To be a reader!
  • A passion for learning!
  • A need to connect every single student with that just right book!
  • The ability to scaffold and accelerate skills and understandings in ELA!
Here are just a few tweets from today’s Michigan Reading Association, Sunday, March 10, 2013, that emphasize some of those qualities.
“Jillian Heise @heisereads

Important for kids to know we have rdg plans. Kids see rdg like bungee jumping-well that was fun now I don’t have to do it again.#mra13

“Jillian Heise @heisereads

If we don’t read ourselves, we’re choosing to be less effective with our kids. -Donalyn Miller #MRA13

“Jillian Heise

For our kids who struggle, reading is nothing but hard…all day long. We need to show them the fun in reading too.@donalynbooks #MRA13

“Heather Jensen @hmjensen31

Reading teacher: a teacher who reads and a reader who teaches.#mra13”   @donalynbooks  Commeyras, Bisplinghoff & Olson (2003)

What do you think are the MOST important qualities of a Reading Teacher?

PS:  Do you recognize @donalynbooks ?  That is the Book Whisperer!

How Often Do I Use a Close Reading?

The answer to today’s question is in the form of a Tweet from Doug Fisher’s address to the Michigan Reading Association, March 9, 2013:

“Close reading takes place 2 or 3 times a week. Not all day every day. –Doug Fisher #MRA13


Close reading is NOT for every text!


How often are you using Close Reading?

How do I choose text for Close Reading?

I have heard this question multiple times in the last month.  I do not remember being asked, “What text should I use for a Read Aloud?”  or “What text should I use for a Think Aloud?”   Maybe it happened and my memory is faulty, but I just don’t remember those questions in the past.

Suddenly, text seems to matter.  And many teachers are very concerned about using the “right text” for instruction.


From the World of Common Sense:

1. Consider what your students are currently reading and what they need to be reading to meet R.CCR.10 Text Complexity and Range of Reading

2. Aim for text that  is complex and will be a “stretch” for the students

3. Check your class data – What is a procedure, skill, or strategy that students need to be using more consistently?

4. What are your writing goals?  What mentor texts are you using?

5. How can you combine reading, writing, speaking and listening and language standards so the students can “practice” using a variety of language arts skills on a very rich and relevant task that is worthy of class time?

Doug Fisher (2012) reminds us that we do want to choose “short, worthy texts” (p. 108) when planning for close reading.  The use of a short piece of text allows the teacher to have time for modeling the skill, strategy or procedure before turning it over to students to practice in a gradual release of responsibility framework.  That modeling is going to include rereading with a specific purpose in mind.  The focus lesson needs to be explicit and include the actions that students will eventually be expected to use.  One goal is to have the students use the skill, strategy, or procedure as soon as possible  in the context of their own reading.  Doug  is crystal clear in explaining that close reading does not happen to every page in any book nor only with short pieces of text.  Balance of text (genre, length, and complexity)  is always a consideration in selection for instruction because close reading is about really “understanding what the author is saying and then comparing that with our own experiences and beliefs” (p.108).

The key points to remember for close reading according to Doug Fisher (2012) are:   “rereading, reading with a pencil, noticing things that are confusing, discussing the text with others, and responding to text-dependent questions” (p. 108).

Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Lapp, D.(2012). Text complexity: Raising rigor in reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

However, do keep your eye on the “prize.” If the goal is that students will independently “close read” text, then the teacher cannot always be providing the “short” text, the directions and the text-dependent questions.  In the world of “gradual release of responsibility” and “common sense” another goal would be for students to be “close reading” their independent reading texts and texts for other courses outside the realm of ELA.  Consider how you would scaffold instruction to build towards multiple goals for close reading.  What can and should that instruction look like?

What text have you used?  Did it work as you expected?  What text will you plan to use next?

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