Friday, January 17, 2014

Close Reading Plus Accountable Talk Equals Super Readers

 Hey everyone, I'm Heather from Second Grade Perks. I also have a TPT shop that you can check out {HERE}. Today I want to share something that I have become obsessed with in my classroom and have seen a huge increase in my students' reading skills. Close reading and accountable talk.  I started using both of these with my class a couple of months ago and I fell in love with the whole process.

With the implementation of common core standards close reading is a must now. I have started this with my class and can see a tremendous growth in their reading skills. The college and career readiness (CCR) anchor standards are often overlooked and the first one states that students must read closely. When I realized this, I quickly started researching what exactly close reading was and how to do it. Here is what I learned:

Close reading is thoughtful, critical analysis of a text that focuses on significant details or patterns in order to develop a deep, precise understanding of the text’s form, craft, meanings, etc. It is a key requirement of the Common Core State Standards and directs the reader’s attention to the text itself.

  • Using short passages and excerpts
  • Diving right into the text with limited pre-reading activities
  • Focusing on the text itself
  • Rereading deliberately
  • Reading with a pencil
  • Noticing things that are confusing
  • Discussing the text with others
  • Think-Pair Share or Turn and Talk frequently
  • Small groups and whole class
  • Responding to text-dependent questions

  • Can only be answered with evidence from the text.
  • Can be literal (checking for understanding), but must also involve analysis, synthesis, evaluation.
  • Focus on word, sentence, and paragraph, as well as larger ideas, themes, or events.
  • Focus on difficult portions of text in order to enhance reading proficiency.
I will give my students a passage and have them read it alone first while coding the text. They will code things such as parts they had a connection to, parts that was new  information or something they already knew, etc. I have several posters in my room that we refer to when close reading. "Show Your Thinking" is one of them, and it reminds them what each code they can use is. They also circle words they don't know and underline parts that are confusing to them.

Next, I read the passage to the students and they check anything that now makes sense to them that they might have underlined before. We discuss any parts that are still confusing or words they don't know and they share their codes.

The text dependent questions come in next. When responding to the questions I require my students to answer by writing or talking with a partner using the following "Be a Text Talker" options. This involves them going back and reading the text for a third time. They also are required to highlight their answers or use a red pen and put Q and the # by the text evidence for their answer (example, question 1=Q1) 

I also give them free talk time and they use the "Talk About it" posters.

If you think close reading is something you would like to try I offer a packet in my TPT shop: Close Reading: Informational Text {Common Core Style}. It includes all of the posters above, 11 nonfiction passages with 2 pages of text dependent questions for each passage, plus more. Click on any of the pictures below. I am going to offer it 20% off today until Sunday night.

So after I learned all of this and started to use it in my room I decided to try and incorporate accountable talk which I was already doing before close reading. Accountable talk requires several things of students:

  • Careful listening to others
  • Building on each others ideas
  • Paraphrasing and seeking clarification
  • Respectful disagreement
  • Being specific and accurate
  • Resisting saying “anything that comes to mind”
  • Working to link clear statements, claims and evidence
  • Participating in the discussion

I made posters for accountable talk to hang in my room and students use them when answering questions during reading or math. It has been amazing seeing the kids use these posters. When they answer my questions I hear things like I agree/disagree with so and so because......, or Mrs. Perkins I would like to show how I found my answer a different way.  Yes, you read right. They talk like this without me even asking them to now. I love it. I also made accountable talk bookmarks to use during guided reading groups. You can get these for FREE by clicking on the picture below.

Well that's it for me today. I hope you were able to take something away from this post for your classroom. Make sure you follow me on Bloglovin' for more ideas and resources!


  1. Great post Heather! I know a lot of us are just starting to get into the standards deep enough to understand what close reading is all about. I enjoyed reading your post and it answered a lot of questions that some of us have about close reading.
    Deb at Fabulously First

  2. So glad Deb! Glad you were able to get something from my post!
    Second Grade Perks
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  3. Wow this is a lot of great information. I need to be doing more of this with my guided reading groups. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Nancy Fun Times is First