I am fascinated by the discussion level that continues around “Close Reading” which is just a “part” of the text in Reading Anchor Standard 1. (Specifically two words out of 31 that actually say, “Read closely.”) You can read what Grant Wiggins posted about Close Reads here.
Tim Shanahan has several posts about close reads. This one, “A Time for Humility,” posted after the IRA conference on April 23, 2013, is particularly enlightening as Shanahan shares that there is no “one perfect model” for close reads.
Who are the experts? Is there a “formula” or a plan that works for every story? No, NO, NO! Close reads are dependent on the complexity of the texts, the skills of the students and the goal of the specific lessons.
When a reader begins with the text, the meaning has to be aligned with the author’s words and craft. How do students understand that? Some students may get all that in the “first read” and therefore not need a second or a close read. But if the second grade students can only provide a “topic” when questioned about a page they have read, a “second read” may be necessary for instruction/modeling of main idea whether explicitly shared by the author or implicit in the text.
Will a single close read work for all students? Probably not! That is the “ART” of teaching, a teacher that can propose a learning target, provide a model and the resources and then begin to check for understanding to specifically meet the needs of all students.
In the waning days or weeks of the 2013 school year, I would encourage teachers to continue to challenge students. Ask your classes when they felt that they were “stretched” in their learning this year. Likewise, ask them when they felt like they were “coasting” and they didn’t need to put out a great deal of effort. Consider students’ input and “Try something different” in your implementation of the Core. A lot of other bloggers and authors have written about the value of high expectations. With scaffolding and some collaborative practice, many student CAN be successful!
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What is close reading?
To begin at the beginning, this began with Reading Anchor Standard #1.
- “Close Reads” are not the Final Goal (March 19, 2013 post)
- How Often Do I Use a Close Reading? (March 9, 2013 post)
Then when considering text for use in close reading demonstrations or for student practice, two posts that cover this ground are:
- Close Reading: Not for Every Text (February 28, 2013 post)
- How Do I Choose Text for Close Reading? (March 2, 2013 post)
What should be the content or purpose of “close reads?”
- Are you allowed to make “connections” in close reading? (February 22, 2013 post)
- and just as a reminder: “Common Sense” and the Common Core (February 21, 2013 post)
Based on what you now “KNOW” about “Close Reading,” what will you do differently BEFORE this school year ends?
Please add your responses below!
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?