Raise your hand if you’re a pro at Close Reading? Raise your hand if your students are pros at Close Reading? If you’re not sure about it, join the club. Since Close Reading came along as the newest buzzword in education, many of us have climbed aboard the bandwagon hoping that this is exactly what our students needed in order to fully and deeply comprehend text . The key to analyzing text is proper coding and annotation. Or so I thought.
I’ve written before of my attempts to teach my students to close read. In a nutshell, what I discovered was that just having them put codes for main idea or connection or an important detail, etc., was not authentic nor was it helping their comprehension in the long run. Instead they were looking for things to put codes next to without considering the whole text. So, at the time I came up with 6 steps to have my students use when close reading, which were then later revised to 5 steps.
|Our original 6 steps to Close Read.|
|Later, these were revised to include text structures.|
Since then, We revised it again and we now have 4 steps (scroll below to see our new anchor chart). We no longer call it close reading, but reading c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y. Carefully, means with deliberate intention of noticing the main idea and text structures. So now the emphasis is having the students summarize what they have read in 1-3 sentences (main idea) and identify text structures.
But let’s back up to the first step: reading for fluency. Students need to ask themselves if they can read all the words. Also, if they understand all the words (if not, what text features can you use to help yourself?). An effective way to establish fluency and word definitions, is to share read the article or passage. Shared reading supports students who are reading below grade level and provides models of fluency. It also supports English Language Learners (ELL) with defining unknown vocabulary.
For the next step, if it is a passage that they can annotate on, they go ahead and write a summary at the top or at the bottom in the white spaces. This can also be done on a post-it if your using a text book. It’s a good idea to have students partner share their summaries so that they can be held accountable for getting the gist. Whole group sharing is the final step to make sure they understand what the passage is mostly about.
Our next step is the really the crux or the must crucial step: identifying text structures. There are basically 5 non-fiction text structures:
- problem/solution: the author presents a problem and possible solutions
- compare/contrast: the author compares and contrasts on a topic or subject
- cause/effect: the author writes about something that happened and why it happened
- sequence: the author uses events, dates or time to write about what happened
- description: the author describes a place, thing or an idea with examples and explanations
Why is this crucial? When you know how the author crafted the piece of writing, then you know the author’s purpose and reason for writing the passage. You also have an insight as to which paragraph or section to look for evidence when answering text dependent questions (citing evidence). But can my students now use these steps independently to read and answer text dependent questions?
Before I assessed them to see if they could, it was time to make a new anchor chart. I had the class come to the rug so that we could interactively write the steps as a chart to use in our class. The chart is a condensed version of the How to Read Carefully and Steps to Read Carefully handout I made and gave to each student. You can download a copy of the handout HERE.
|Student Handout for Careful Reading|