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Close Reading for Content Area Teams


Last week I wrote about redesigning professional learning opportunities to assist teachers in constructing their own learning. This week I used that approach to design yet another opportunity for another school. The focus and preparation was different, but the end result was to allow teachers to continue to collaborate and construct learning with each other.


Over the course of this school year, high school teachers are focusing on how to implement close reading in their classrooms. Earlier sessions developed an understanding of the Common Core and text complexity. From there we concentrated on the basics of close reading. Teachers were eager to see examples of close reading in their own content area. This lead to the development of a more differentiated agenda allowing for the important focused conversations within their content domains.


During the 1.5 hour professional development session we used the following approach:

  • Read This
  • Discuss This
  • Watch This
  • Discuss This
  • Plan This

First teachers read an article to add to their understanding of close reading. They were then asked to engage in the strategy Save the Last Word for MeThe intent was to experience the strategy for themselves so that they could add it to their instructional opportunties as one way of allowing students to discuss and make meaning of text at a deeper level.

Next each content level group was provided a sample video demonstrating close reading at their specific content area along with discussion starters. The video served as examples. Teachers were not expected to replicate the video back in their classroom – the videos were merely provided to spark conversations to plan for their own close reading experiences with their students. Several online repositories were utilized including The Teaching Channel and You Tube.

The final task was to make plans for their continued use of close, analytical reading opportunities into their classrooms. Our next session will be in a month. The expectation is be ready to share what they have tried and how their students responded.

Plans were developed for five content domains at the high school level. The plans for Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Math and Career and Tech have been uploaded to my Slide Share account to serve as samples in your own professional development planning.


The planning of this type of approach took extra time, especially finding 5 video demonstrations that would be useful to the content area teams. But the time spent in planning, as well as the time teachers spent in content area groups, was beneficial. Teachers were able to have deeper collaborative dialogue about using close reading in their own classrooms. For some the tasks reconfirmed elements of close reading they are already doing in their classrooms. For others, new ideas were generated through the reading, viewing and discussions. It will be great to see what transpires during the coming month!

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