Tag Archives: lenses

#TCRWP: Reading Institute Day 3



Day 3 of the Reading Institute ended appropriately with friends from the What Readers Really Do twitter chat including:  one author Vicki Vinton,  Ryan Scala, Julieanne Harmatz, Catherine Flynn, Tara Smith, Colette Bennett  and myself.  Interesting side note that we all Tweet, blog and love to talk literacy and education!!!  (Missing friends Allison Jackson and Steve Peterson)

ImageMust read book!

So what did we learn during Day 3?

In Brooke Geller’s session we worked on increasing our knowledge of nonfiction, made tools (pictures tomorrow), and began our study of guided reading and book introductions.  The assessment connections have been crucial – if we don’t plan to use the information, what purpose does it serve?  One of Brooke’s specialties is asking guiding questions to make us think about our practices. Examples:  Which students really need the structure and support of guided reading? Which students need more practice reading?  Are your students over taught and under practiced?  At what grade do you end guided reading for most students and move on to other structures with more student ownership?


Our Social Studies center work with Kathleen Tolan continued today with a lesson in note-taking (Teach students so this skill transfers across all content areas. Students don’t really want to copy every word, they just lack effective strategies).  This also means that you will be teaching nonfiction text structures in order for students to think about the format of notes that will best match the material / information being studied.  We played a round of “Guess My Text Structure” which we pretty much all failed in terms of speed of response.  The purpose was to provide a bit of “playful practice” with the types of text structures in a given text where students are required to provide evidence of their structure to win.  We ended our session with more center time.  (Still loving the open-ended nature of these tasks!)


Closing Workshop with Kelly Hohne – Close Reading of Informational Text

So, close reading AGAIN, Fran?  Really?  Are you kidding me?  There was the Close Reading Blog-a-thon.  And you have all those blog posts:

But stick with me and marvel at the sheer brilliance that I saw in Kelly’s work with us during the closing workshop.

The article we used was Gorillas in Danger  and if you open it up, you can follow along on a second tab or on a split screen.

(Disclaimer:  How I think this went!)

Kelly read the title and the first paragraph. She then asked us to think about that first paragraph.  What did it say?  What were we thinking?  After chatting with a partner, Kelly invited us to study the cover photo.  What impact did that image have on us as readers?  We then went to the word box and  discussed the specific words that had an impact on us from the definition.

Next Kelly reminded us that “beginnings matter” and that we needed to put our ideas from the first paragraph, the cover photo and the definition together as we worked to “see more”.   (Wow – close reading from a Read Aloud first paragraph, photo and definition as we BEGAN reading the article.)

Kelly reread the first paragraph and asked us to think about the visual images that were conveyed by the words.  We talked about “grooming, sleeping, playing” – human-like characteristics, the lush forest and the deliberate word choices by the author to make us more thoughtful.

Kelly then invited us to reread the first paragraph aloud with her (scaffolded – we had heard it twice so we were all successful) and  continued on through the rest of that column.  As we were reading we were to also be thinking about word choice.  We discussed those words that again seemed important to us and were also deliberate choices made by the author.


Kelly did not read the entire article to us and then ask us to reread it in its entirety a second time for vocabulary, a third time for main idea and sequence of events or a fourth time for point of view/stance.  

Instead Kelly carefully chose our entry points: the first paragraph (words), the cover photo, and the definition of “conservation” to begin our “close” reading.  We discussed those separately and then collectively. Then we read orally together. Not only did we have a purpose for rereading (fluency) but also for our lens of language and close reading.

Have you seen those moves before?

We had another go at “turn and talk” about the language in the rest of the text on the first page.  Then Kelly split the auditorium into three parts.  We listened to the second page under our assigned lens which was one of these:

1. language about the gorillas

2. structure

3. language about the conservationists

We ended with even more conversation about the purpose of this article and Natalie Smith’s view of the gorillas.

Kelly pushed us to notice more details in the story with the specific “read aloud” section.  We reread with specific lenses.  We read together.  We used the word choice of the author to help us support the BIG idea of this text. The lens of language paid off and helped us “see more” as well as be something “transferable” so students owned this text and other texts!

What did our language work look like?


What new thinking/learning have you added around the idea of close reading informational text?

Closing Keynote

Jacqueline Woodson (@JackieWoodson)

“Writing about the ordinary can show kids how extraordinary they are.” She knew that she was going to be a writer by the age of 7.  It took her 20 years to be a writer and “get those stickers”. Absolutely. Hysterically. Funny! Inspiring!  and oh, so great to hear her both recite and read her work!

It’s a new day!  What will you be learning today?


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.


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!
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