22 Comments

Close Reading: Am I Getting Close?

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I have become obsessed with learning more about Close Reading. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on to understand this strategy and be able to assist teachers with this shift in thinking.

I have devoted much of the last 20 years to the study of literacy.  I am not sure I should admit this, but up until the onset of the Common Core I had never heard of the specific strategy of Close Reading. Timothy Shanahan states in a PPT presentation it has been around for a quite long time. A closer look at the strategy reveals I have used parts of the process with students, but not in its entirety.

Knowing that this strategy is something the teachers I work with should know about, I set out to develop a few resources to assist in their efforts. The materials I have developed are based on the works of Timothy Shanahan, Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, Diane Lapp and Beth Burke.

It should be noted that NOT every reading should be a CLOSE READING. As educators we need to make sure we are setting a purpose for our teaching and student learning. When the purpose is, as Douglas Fisher states, “to really focus on what the author had to say, what the author’s purpose was, what the words mean, and what the structure of the text tells us – the Close Reading strategy can be used.”

Close Readings can be done in a variety of settings with both literature and informational text. At the elementary level consider incorporating into your shared reading and interactive read alouds. A Close Reading lesson will not doubt spread across several days. The strategy would become too lengthy for elementary students to accomplish in one sitting. The text that is used should be short, complex and worthy of a close read. When choosing text keep these 4 areas in mind, yet remember to keep your Close Reading focused. Each of these do not (or should not) be focused on in one Close Reading sequence.

  • Language:
    • Word choice
    • Vocabulary
    • Reading complexity
  • Narrative/Author’s Stance
    • Who is telling the article or story?
    • How are they telling the story or information?
    • What format is the story or article in?
  • Context
    • Historical context of document, information, or story
    • Author’s background
  • Syntax
    • The order the words appear
    • Repeated phrases
    •  Style of writing (formal, informal, format, etc…)

The resources I found helpful in my journey thus far include:

  • Timothy Shanahan blogs at Shanahan on Literacy. I used information found in his July 2012 post Planning for Close Reading.
  • A Close Look at Close Reading: Scaffolding Students with Complex Text (Beth Burke) served as a guide for the lesson template I developed. The text-dependent question stems on page 11, 12, and 13 will be used to introduce this concept to teachers. They will come in handy when pre-planning Close Reading lessons on the template below!
  • The book Text Complexity by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey and Diane Lapp deepened my understanding of Close Reading, especially pages 106-132.
  • Much of the information I have found has been geared to the secondary classroom setting. Close Reading In Elementary Schools by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey guided my understanding of this strategy in the elementary classroom. The article can be found in the November 2012 Reading Teacher Journal.
  • Kevin Hodgson’s Prezi title Close Reading of Text also served as an organized review of the strategy including the works of Shanahan and Fisher.

A special thanks to my good friend, Fran McVeigh (@franmcveigh), author of the blog Resource-Full. She continues to push my thinking in this journey. Visit her blog! Her most recent post:Common Core: Are You Allowed To Make Connections in a Close Reading provides insight into a frequent question about Close Reading.

The following forms reflect my current thinking on The Moves (or Steps), Pre-Planning and The Close Reading Lesson Format. They are a synthesis of my research in this area. They have gone through several revisions up to this point and I assume they will continue to transform!  I welcome comments, feedback and questions!

The Moves – This document provides the basic steps or moves of the Close Reading strategy. It was developed to be an overview/easy reference sheet for teachers.

Close Reading (Pre-Planning Guide and Lesson Format) – This document was developed as a tool to pre-plan a Close Reading lesson and provide guidance as they implement the lesson with students.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these two tools! 

22 Comments

  • Maureen Devlin 24 Feb

    Great post. I’m adding this to my recent close reading/reading response post so I can refer back to your points as I teach. Thank you, Kathy

    • Kathy Perret 24 Feb

      So glad the post was helpful. I’ll check out your recent post. I’m sure it will provide me additional guidance in this area!

      Kathy

  • Vicky VanFradenburgh 24 Feb

    This was excellent. Many good things to use! Thank you!
    Vicky

    • Kathy Perret 24 Feb

      Vicky,
      Thank you! If you try out the templates, I’d love to hear how it goes!

      Kathy

  • franmcveigh 24 Feb

    Kathy,
    You made some very critical points in your blog:
    1) Not every reading of everything is a “close reading,”
    2) Close reading is for all ages of students for exactly those purposes you quoted from Doug Fisher, and
    3) Close reading must be carefully planned in order to truly get at the heart of “what makes the text complex” in the first place.

    I am looking forward to trying out your template!

    Thanks for all the great resources!

    • Kathy Perret 24 Feb

      Thanks, Fran.

      Let me know if you try the template out. I’ll be using it with teachers starting this week. Feedback may lead to other revisions!

      Kathy

  • Rhinda Sutton 24 Feb

    Kathy,
    Thanks for sharing your thinking on close reading. I, too, have been investigating this concept since reading about it in the Common Core. I am using the thinking behind close reading to help preservice teachers understand intentional lesson planning with lessons from a manual. Your lesson planning template would work well as a guide for teachers planning their own lessons. Please check out my blog on close reading vs. reading from a critical stance. Thanks for continuing the thinking and developing great resources.

    • Kathy Perret 24 Feb

      Thanks for your comments and work with pre-service teachers! I will check your blog out! It is great we are all in this together!

      Kathy

  • Drinda Williams 25 Feb

    I am currently reading Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst, Notice & Note Strategies for Close Reading. The beginning chapters have already helped me to clarify and expand my thinking. I recommend this book as we continue this journey together.

    • Kathy Perret 25 Feb

      I recently purchased Notice and Note Strategies for Close Reading. I look forward to reading it!

      Kathy

  • Megan Menzynski (@MeganMenzynski) 25 Feb

    Thank you very much for the resources!

    • Kathy Perret 25 Feb

      Megan,
      You are very welcome. Let me know if you give any of them a try. I’d love feedback!

      Kathy

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  • Jeri Gustafson 16 Sep

    Thanks for the close reading resources, Kathy! Let me know what you thought about Notice and Note Strategies for Close Reading. Is it worth a close read?? : )

    • Kathy Perret 17 Sep

      Thanks, Jeri. A work in progress! I do have the book Notice and Note. I haven’t had time to read much of it. I like what I’ve read so far in it.
      Kathy

  • Maureen Devlin 17 Sep

    Thanks for this great post. I too am researching and teaching this approach. I look forward to incorporating your research as well.

    • Kathy Perret 17 Sep

      Glad the post was helpful, Maureen. Are you blogging about your Close Reading experiences in the classroom? Would love to learn about what your are doing.

      Kathy

      • Maureen Devlin 17 Sep

        Blogged a bit. Will share. I’ll send you links.

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