Going Deep with Award Winning Books:
Close reading and text-dependent questions
Tips and Guidelines for Cose Readings
• Because this is challenging work, consider working with your grade level peers to find texts that are worthy of a close read, and to generate appropriate questions. What is it about a particular text that makes it complex? What portions of it will you choose to target? What will be the purpose for each reading of the text? Be very intentional about where you will incorporate close readings, and how often. Use your curriculum map to ensure that you do this work across the content areas, not just in the context of Reader's Workshop.
• Examine what you currently do in your literacy instruction, and then determine what protocols and strategies you will use in the course of a close reading. What system will you use for annotating? Underlining, circles, boxes? Two or three-column notes? How will students mark confusing parts as they read? Will you use the Questioning the Author technique? Do your students practice different roles in group discussions of text?
• Model for students everything that you want them to do—both in the reading process, and during the discussion process. Although the texts you choose will be short to allow for re-readings, consider “chunking” the text into different passages if necessary to accomplish a particular purpose in a session.
• Be sure that text-to-self connections are informed by a close reading first. Have students spend time inside the text, deriving meaning from what the author is saying before they go outside of the text and compare it to what they know and believe from their own experience.
• Recognize that this work will take time and that it requires a different mindset. Give yourself permission to spend several days on one piece of reading. The type of analysis and interpretation that the Common Core requires will only come about with a slowing down of the reading process followed by rich discussions. Ultimately, you are trying to establish a classroom culture with a willingness to re-enter a text because of the rewards of increased reading stamina and deeper understanding.
• Whenever possible, use writing as a way for students to share their thinking. In addition to annotating with short notes, students (particularly in grades three and up) can be asked to synthesize their thoughts into a paragraph when the close reading sessions are complete, combining the evidence they have discovered with the inferences that they have made, the opinions that they have formed, etc.
Close Reading In Action • For Younger Elementary • For Middle & Upper Elementary • Resources