Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Close Reading Strategies

With the push for common core and the strive to have students dig deeper within a text.  Close reading requires the students to develop their own thinking while reading while learning to engage with the text in the process.  Specifically, the common core standards state that students must "read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text."

Over the past few months, I have been using close reading in my classroom almost daily and I've seen students improve significantly in the way they read.  So you might be asking....what is close reading?

  • Close reading involves the reading short passages - not whole texts.  In primary grades, short picture books may be used.
  • The text should be complex.
  • Students should read the passage multiple times for different purposes.
  • Questions should be text dependent and focus on vocabulary, details, text structure, inferencing, author's purpose, main idea, and forming opinions.
  • Students must interact with the text by coding it with various symbols that have meaning.

Now, there are various sources that give a specific sequence and structure that one should follow when doing close readings with your students, but I have adapted it just a bit to fit the needs in my classroom.  I have students in literature centers each day and am able to meet with every group for about 15 minutes.  During this time, five days a week, I work on close reading, and really, 15 minutes a day is all that my students really need to be successful.  

  • On the first day, the students set a purpose for reading.
  • I read the text aloud.  While I'm reading, students must interact with the text by marking it using the symbols I provided them.
  • Students briefly summarize the passage with a partner.
  • We complete one reading strategy page that relates with the text.

  • We preview the vocabulary activity page for the day.
  • The students reread the text with a partner.
  • While reading, students continue interacting with the text.  Perhaps they found a new vocabulary word they'd like to circle.
  • We complete the vocabulary page.  Students choose their own words to use.

  • We preview the comprehension questions for the passage.
  • Students read the passage on their own silently.  I encourage them to put a star (important information symbol) for answers they find while they are reading.
  • After reading on their own, students can easily go back in the text to find their stars and answer questions.
  • We discuss our answers as a group.

  • The students take a look at the activity page for the reading strategy they will focus on today.
  • We read as a group.  Students rotate reading paragraphs.
  • Depending on the nature of the page, students will fill it out on their own, with a partner, or we will discuss as a group.

  • The students take a look at the activity page for the reading strategy they will focus on today.
  • The students will whisper read the passage for the purpose we set.
  • Depending on the nature of the page, students will fill it out on their own, with a partner, or we will discuss as a group.
  • At the conclusion of the group meeting, students discuss how they liked the passage, questions they still have, connections they made, etc. 

Now, if you have 15 minutes a day to work with small groups, you can definitely use the model I suggested above.  If not, this works well as a whole-group activity as well. The first week I did close readings, I actually did it in place of morning work so I could model the process to the whole class.  This worked well, but I really like the nature of small groups so each child is able to contribute to the conversations we have.
Would you like to try close reading in your classroom?  I have this FREEBIE that you can download to test it with your students.  The free passage and five activities is part of a larger unit I have for sale in my TpT store.

I am currently selling monthly bundles of 4 texts that range from a 2nd-4th grade reading level.  Each text is paired with 5 pages for students to use to dig deeper.  You can find the monthly units HERE.  I am currently working on creating them for each month students are in school.  I hope to be finished soon!


  1. In my school, my students only get 50 minutes for reading which isn't very much. Close reading has become my best friend when giving my students a super packed mini lesson on comprehension strategies. Thank you so much for making these packets. They will definitely be on my list to get during this sale!!

  2. This sure is a GEM of a post! Thank you!