Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: Falling in Love With Close Reading: Chapter 1

Falling in Love With Close Reading: Chapter 1

I am super excited to be participating in a book study on the book Falling in Love with Close Reading by Lehman and Roberts.

My school started really talking about close reading two years ago. We had a brief training and were told to make sure our kids were close reading. I felt a bit lost. I didn't feel like I really knew what I was teaching them to do. Needless to say, the first year was a mess. I don't think the kids got anything out of it and I gradually stopped asking them to do it. Last year, I gave it another go. I taught some specific procedures and did lots of modeling. It went much smoother. But I still feel that something is missing. I am hoping that something will be found in this book! I will be rioting about one chapter each Sunday.

The moment my book came in the mail, I dove right in and read chapter one. My husband thought I had completely lost my mind when he saw how excited I was to get a book about reading! The first chapter is an easy read about the history of close reading, the Common Core and close reading and what we will find inside the book.

The authors defined close reading as having readers interact with the text, making observations about the text and rereading the text. I like to tell my kids that they should be looking at the text through a magnifying glass so that they can see all the smallest details.

Powerful close read instruction increases student engagement and joy. This might be what is missing from my close read instruction! Many of my kiddos roll their eyes when I tell them are going to close read. Quality close read instruction in just one of your reading tools and should not be used as the only reading instruction. With powerful close read instruction, teachers are helping their students to become more independent and not rely on questioning and prompting from the teacher. Close reading takes time and the skills should be practiced and developed throughout the year. Close reading instruction requires the teacher to allow students to read over an extended period of time without interruption for discussions and writing prompts.

As I mentioned, close reading went a little smoother last year in my classroom. Students were given informational text passages. They were asked to read them to themselves first. Then they would reread and mark up their text. I told them that they should write whatever they were thinking. So if a question came to mind, they would write it in the margin. If a word was tricky, they would try and use context clues to come up with a definition. When they got confused, they would write question marks. When they got excited, they would make exclamation points.

I would give students multiple tools to work with including pencil, pens, highlighters and sticky notes. They all chose to use the tools in different ways and I allowed that freedom.

After they finished the second read, they would discuss their thought with the group. This was a student-led discussion. Sometimes they were great. Sometimes they were frustrating!

After the discussion, they often had questions or a graphic organizer to fill out.

I almost always did close reads in my guided reading groups and would differentiate passage Lexile levels based on the group.

Although this worked so much better than the year before (when it was a free-for-all), it needs some revamping. I'm anxious to read on and make some powerful changes for next year!

Make sure to sign up for the giveaway and head over and read what other bloggers are saying about chapter one.

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  1. I'm glad to know that as time goes on it gets better. I tried it for the first time last year and wasn't sure if I should try to tackle it again.

  2. I had the same experience two years ago. I sat in a brief pd that provided no real support or information about close reading. I learned a little bit more last year on my own, but I am excited to be a part of this study group so that I can really learn how to teach my students to read closely!



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