Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Close Reading

Hi, I'm Jessica from What I Have Learned.  I'm excited to be here today sharing with you about Close Reading.

One of the biggest shifts in education that I’ve seen recently is the concept of Close Reading. This is not to be confused with Cloze reading (with a Z). I had to make that distinction the first time I learned about Close Reading!

Close Reading isn’t necessarily a new concept. I was taught how to do it in high school. The difference is that now we’re asking our elementary students to engage in close reading of complex texts. Students as early as first grade and kindergarten are learning how to closely read text to find answers and use textual evidence to answer those questions.

I'm a newbie at implementing Close Reading in my classroom.  We haven't done a very good job of it this year, but I'm always looking to improve.  Where have I gone to figure it out?  The internet, of course!

I created a Pinterest board  to save great Close Reading ideas.  It seems that there are several different ways to “do” close reading and steps to follow.  The basic idea is to get students to look at text at a deeper level.

Some suggestions:

If you’re just starting out, start simply. Use one or two coding features (maybe a circle for an unknown word and question mark for an unknown concept). Add coding features as you and your students become more comfortable with the process.

Find a routine that works for you. Read the text over several days and focus on certain parts, paragraphs, or features each day. Spend time going deep.

The general concept is:
  • 1st read: focus on the big ideas and whole text comprehension
  • 2nd read: Focus on how the text works, paying attention to the specific comprehension that you want students to learn through the text (compare and contrast, cause and effect, description, etc.)
  • 3rd read: Focus on connecting the text to self and other texts
I would also suggest that the text could be read over several days, either reading the whole thing each day or even breaking it apart by paragraphs and reading parts of it each day.  The small the chunk, the more successful students will be. 

Want to read more? This was a good, recent blog post on Close Reading. This particular blogger linked to various other blogs and resources about Close Reading. This article by Fisher and Frey is another good resource. There are also a ton of YouTube videos that show examples of students doing it in the classroom.

The biggest challenge for me has been where to access good texts for students. I have a lower group of second graders this year and for most, it's a challenge reading grade-level text.  Many TpT sellers have begun to write their own texts. There are awesome packets available with wonderful, deep texts.

Here’s some other helpful ideas on where to find texts:
  1. Your reading program:  Try this first. The text can be hit and miss. I tend to find better text in the short passages that come before and after the main story or in the supplemental books that come with the program. 
  2. Readworks: This is another resource that has leveled passages. They’ve been adding a lot of resources lately. You can find texts and lessons based on comprehension skill, or sort by grade level or text level. 
  3. I just discovered this resource and haven’t fully investigated all the benefits of the site. They have some wonderful passages for second - fifth grade students amid other resources. 
  4. Reading A to Z / RazKids: This is a paid resource, but still a good source of text, if you have access to it. You can even print / display text for a small group or whole class so that everyone can read the same text. 
  5. Scholastic News and Time for Kids:  I was able to get subscriptions through Donor's Choose (now is the time to write projects for subscriptions for next year).  Some of the articles lend themselves well to Close Reading, some don't.  I save my magazines from year to year to reuse them with students.
  6. The Brown Bag Teacher also just did a great blog post on where to find text resources for upper grades. She mentioned Readworks and a few others that were new to me!
So, how have you used Close Reading in your classroom?  Any tips and tricks you can share with us that have made it easier for your students to access text at a deeper level?


  1. I enjoyed reading your post and am going to follow your pinterest board! Thanks for the "simple" getting started idea!

    1. Thanks! You're welcome. It's great to start small and add to it as your comfort level increases. Close reading is a great tool for the right text.

  2. I am so glad I came across this post! I am just getting started with close reading with my kinders and I feel a bit inept at times. Thank you for sharing all these resources!


  3. I just went to a literacy conference last week and this is one of the ideas they want to start implementing through the Clark County School District. We were told Curriculum Engine is a good place to find Close Reading stories and activities. The text should actually be a grade or two above your students grade level, so they really have to THINK about the reading. And Edmodo is also a good place to do for the same thing.