How Close Reading Should Be Taught
Well, addressing the varying needs of students may make teaching a very daunting task. Students should decipher the deep meaning of the materials they read and provide thoughtful answers to them. One of the ways students interact with the text is via close reading which is a very strong tool for both fiction and nonfiction texts of different grade levels. Before learning, it’s better to make a text complexity analysis, to know what text is in front of you.
Setting the Stage
At the start of every year, all the components that form close reading have a preset structure. However, as the year progresses students begin to learn more independently. For you to enjoy close reading, you have to set a purpose and I usually tell my class that we intend to look for the main idea. The main idea helps us determine what the article talks about “. For instance, as we were learning about how some animals usually adapt to their surroundings, the simple phrase “how animals adapt” is the main idea. As we write the purpose at the top page, we will meet the clear objectives more easily.
Once we set the purpose, we will number all the paragraphs so that students will easily cite the sources and monitor their reading. Also, as part of the pre-reading strategy students can use some clues like titles and pictures, etc. to find out what the theme of the text is.
Developing the Skill
While reading, students are free to use pencil marks in annotating the text. Color-coding annotation used to offer students the visual cues. The common key for color coding should be submitted to the entire class so that they can all use consistent marks.
At the beginning of each year, we usually go through the text together for the first objective or fluency or to familiarize yourself with the words. Now, we will reread the passage to identify some key terms like names of places, dates, and numbers. We will then mark these key terms using a blue box and I would tell them the reason behind these marks.
I will then set a mini-lesson for explaining each of the key terms. In case there are bolded words, we explain their significance. As we went through a weather article, I explained why they need boldly printed headings and it’s to help us identify the topic of the paragraphs.
You can also note other key terms based on their dates. For instance, after going through an article by Ellen Ochoa who is the first Hispanic woman to visit the space, we analyzed the dates given to make sticky notes on her life. These include the specific date and time this happened and they were able to understand how text helps give a chronological and logical flow of information.
After students go through the passage together, they begin rereading it independently before putting boxes around unfamiliar words. I advise them to share the unknown words with other students, and their feedback will decide how our upcoming lesson will turn out. Those words which I must reteach vary depending on content and students need to understand them. Once we know the vocabularies to revisit, we define what the text means.
After the independent reading, we reread the passage as the whole class and pause to annotate. We mark the words that seem new and learn their meaning. And as the year progresses, sharper students learn to annotate by themselves and can do it earlier. Annotating helps them to slow down and discuss with their peers, their answers, and why they make sense.
Encouraging Critical Questions
Also, the students will answer my set questions on the text. The questions should be set from simple to complex to make it easier for learners of all levels to participate. Also, students should discuss what they have read to enhance their comprehension.
Later that year, these students can start developing their questions and posing them to their peers. Always tell your students that they must support their answers with evidence in the text. A trading car format will boost the students’ engagement during the questions. Students will write a question to a card then give it to another student to answer. This simple activity will improve the participation of students who are shy to answer questions aloud. At times, I randomly collect one of these cards and pose the question on the next lesson to students.