Well…hello!!! I wanted to share with you what close reading looks like in my class. I always try to teach my students the WHY behind our learning. I think this helps my students deepen their understanding of what we are doing and allows them to make real-life connections. Often times I introduce an abstract reading strategy/skill by doing something concrete and tangible. Then, after the concrete modeling lesson, I make the connection to reading. So, when I began to teach my students how to “closely read” a text, I wanted to start with something concrete. It doesn’t get anymore concrete than creepy crawlers? Right? So, here’s what I did: First, I purchased these creepy crawlers and these magnifying glasses (in previous years my co-teacher and I would catch a few bugs outside….are we crazy or what?). You don’t have to use critters for this part. A cool branch, leaf, meal worm, or even rock would work! Then, I had my students observe one of the creepy crawlers with their naked eye. They recorded their observations on the “I See” side of the graphic organizer below. They could write words or draw a picture. We spent a few minutes observing, but we didn’t look at the critters with much detail.
Then, I presented them with a magnifying glass and told them this time we are going to take a closer look at our bugs. They were ALL KINDS OF EXCITED! I told them to carefully study the details of the bug and record their observations on the “Now I See” side of their graphic organizer.
Afterwards, we made the connection between taking a close look at an object and taking a close look at a text. Students noticed SOME things when they looked at the object/thing with their naked eye, but they observed MUCH more in detail when they carefully observed it with the magnifying glass. I explained to students that this applies to reading as well. When we read something for the first time, we may notice SOME things (but not all). Sometimes texts require a second or third look! After this lesson, we refer to close reading as “MAGNIFIED READING.” I think it helps them remember WHY we are closely reading something and brings them back to the first lesson. The next day, we were ready to begin our first day of close reading. A big part of closely reading a text in a small group is to allow time for students to discuss the text. These posters hang in my small group area to help my kiddos remember how to be a good listener and active participant. The “Can You Prove It?” poster gives my students sentence starters (example: I know this because on page ______ it says…”)
On the first day, we do a cold read of the text. A cold read means we’ve never read the text before nor have I given my students any background knowledge about the text.
After the cold read, we address any unfamiliar vocabulary terms. I like to play a simple match up game with my kiddos to help them learn the vocabulary words.
Then, we move onto our “warm read” on Day 2 and our “hot read” on Day 3. I explain what we do at each of these phases in my Close Reading pack here. After students have visited and re-visited the text and we’ve had a discussion about the text, I provide my students with a question and have them use evidence from the text to support their thinking. We often refer back to the “Can You Prove It?” poster to help us with our writing. My students are still working on restating the question in their answer. They’re also still working on how to properly use quotation marks in their responses. (FYI: I’ve been SO proud of the progress my students have made in such a short amount of time. It’s HARD for first graders to look back at the text over and over again to find evidence to support their thinking because they often want to share their prior knowledge and how the text relates to them. I still provide time for students to share their experiences (IT’S FIRST GRADE, after all!!!) However, after they have shared, I try to redirect them back to the TEXT to find support. It takes time!)
I keep all of my close reading printables organized in this handy dandy binder. I make multiple copies of this Close Reading Observation sheet and jot down any notes before, during, and after our small group time.
Inside the binder, I also keep a little breakdown of what cold reads, warm reads, and hot reads are and a copy of some great text-dependent questions for fiction and non-fiction texts.
I also hold some independent fiction and non-fiction activities that help students can use to practice closely reading a text to find information on their own.
In each pocket, I include 6 copies of each passage, vocabulary cards, and the response sheets. I label each pocket with the title of the passage and write whether it’s a fiction or non-fiction text (RL for Reading Literature or RI for Reading Informational). This helps my crazy mind stay somewhat sane!
If you’re interested in any of these materials, you can find ALL that you see above in my Close Reading for Beginners pack!