Monday, September 30, 2013

Close Reading

Last week I presented a professional development session on Close Reading to my own staff. Though I've presented dozens of times before, I was nervous this time. I like to have some knowledge of my audience and their needs, and I felt pretty uninformed. Because I started at my school at the very last minute, I hadn't even met all the teachers! And I was presenting to all teachers, K-5.

I was provided with a partner, who would present with me. That made me even more nervous, because I hadn't met her until two days before the presentation, either! It can be challenging to present as a team, especially the first time.

As it turned out, I needn't have worried at all. It was a great day, great presentation, great audience! I was amazed that my partner and I worked together fabulously, as if we'd done it many times before.

So have you had a chance to learn about Close Reading? Not even sure exactly what it is?

Watch this: VIDEO of Douglas Fisher

Read this: ARTICLE by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey

Read this: ARTICLE from ASCD

And if you're hungry for more, order this book:

Notice and Note


It's a great resource!

Close reading is just what it sounds like: Reading something closely. Of course, there is a lot more to it than that, but a name that matches the strategy is a great start!

When teaching a Close Reading lesson, there are a few components to keep in mind.

1. The lesson should use short passages. Of course the definition of "short" varies, depending on the age of the students. For my kindergartners and first graders, a few sentences can be appropriate, but for older students, it might be a few paragraphs. The text can be something that stands alone, or it can be an excerpt from a longer piece.

2. The text should be complex. The whole point is to help students learn skills and strategies for deep understanding, so the text should be challenging.

3. The teacher should provide limited frontloading. In recent years, there have been times when teachers have been encouraged to spend a lot of time helping students get ready to read. But in a Close Reading, students are expected to do more of the work. There may be texts that require a bit of frontloading, but there shouldn't be too much. Students are learning how to understand text on their own.

4. There should be opportunities for repeated readings. Students should read and re-read and re-read. Each time they read, students will have gained a little more background knowledge from the previous reading, and they will understand more.

5. The teacher should be asking students text-dependent questions. This is all about providing evidence from the text to support their answers, which is what the Common Core Standards are all about.

6. The students should be annotating what they read: highlighters, Post-It notes, circled words, and notes in the margin are all appropriate! This is one piece of the Close Reading lesson that requires some guidelines ahead of time! If students don't know what to highlight, they might highlight everything! I began my close reading lessons with a mini-lesson on how to highlight, especially the idea of one line, not "coloring." If older students will be numbering paragraphs to aid in discussion of a text, they'll need to know how to number paragraphs (in our presentation, a few teachers didn't number the paragraphs correctly, which led to confusion!)

One part of all of this that some teachers expressed a little anxiety about: asking text-dependent questions. I created this handy bookmark/guide that teachers can use to help them generate text-dependent questions. It's perfect for the Common Core!

Text-Dependent Questions

You can download a copy HERE.

Have a great Monday!

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