Today, I wanted to share with you how I teach my second graders to interact closely with their reading material. Common Core asks our students to rely on the text they read to demonstrate what they know. It says that they should be able to extract information that is explicitly stated in the text and to make logical inferences from it. They are to cite specific textual evidence and to draw conclusions from the text.
Reading passages are my preferred method for practicing close reading. The length of the passages are manageable and easy to reference since they are usually only one page long. Sometimes, we read and respond to the passages in a whole group setting, and sometimes, the students complete them independently.
I like to alternate the scaffolded learning with independent practice. This way I can teach them how to read closely and explicitly address the skills involved in text based evidence reading in a whole group setting. This prepares them to more successfully use these strategies when they read independently.
At this point in the school year, I always begin by passing out the reading passage and giving the students time to read it independently. When they are finished, I have the students think of one interesting thing they learned and use think-pair-share to give the students an opportunity to talk about this fact. Then, we practice locating key information and/or citing evidence to answer questions based on the text.
We always begin by using our crayons (or markers) to locate information in the text as prompted. Since we are doing it whole group, we typically choral read the tasks one at a time. After reading each task, I give the students time to locate the evidence specific to each task. I have them hold off on marking anything so that we can discuss it as a whole group first and I can address any misconceptions (crayons don't erase very well).
Once we finish these tasks, our text looks a bit like this.
Then, it's on to the comprehension questions. Sometimes our questions come straight from the text and the students are able to underline and code the information to be used in their answer.
Sometimes, the question requires that we make an inference, as in this question below. We discussed how the text did not explicitly state the genre, but we could infer that it was nonfiction because it gave true facts about honeybees and also included a real photograph of a real honeybee as opposed to sharing a fun or silly story about a bee named Bob.
Sometimes I use these strategies when reading our weekly Scholastic News. After reading it as a whole group, I might verbally ask the students to locate the information that answers my specific question(s). We usually just use our pencils in this case. Sometimes, the newspaper includes skill sheets that task students with citing text evidence, but I still have them go back to the text and prove it by underlining, circling, etc.
One more way that I like to develop the students' close reading skills is by using a constructed response component. These written responses are a great way to get in some extra writing and they are another great way to engage students with the text.
My students always write a topic sentence (by answering the question in the prompt) and then include three (or more) detail sentences, and a concluding sentence. Once again, I like alternating these between whole group and independent settings. This way, the students are frequently reminded of the strategies to use when writing these lengthier answers. I have also been known to create constructed response questions to go with our weekly Scholastic News.
And, that is pretty much how I teach my students to interact with their text more closely. Surprisingly, my students never moan and groan when I pass these out! They enjoy going back to the text and marking it up, and that makes my teacher heart happy. Oh so happy! The close read that was featured in this post is from my Nonfiction Close Reads for the Spring Months. You can check out my close read packs here.