Engaging in Close Reading
Tell me about it
During a close reading, students investigate a short piece of rich text through multiple readings. They often annotate the text, engaging with it as a group or independently through text-based questions and discussion (in grades K-2 the teacher reads aloud, asking questions while modeling through think aloud). Along with gaining new knowledge, students who learn how to read closely are also building the skills they need to read complex text independently.
Considerations for instructional planning
- Begin by having students read an appropriate amount of text silently or with a partner, and then a second time by a fluent reader out loud, or vice versa.
- Progress through a series of text dependent questions to reveal critical ideas and information within the text as well as vocabulary, text structure, and point of view or purpose.
- Use a variety of appropriate teaching methodologies when having students answer the text dependent questions (e.g., modeling and think alouds; pair, square, and share; fishbowl).
- Ask students to engage in writing to solidify what they have learned.
- Connect independent reading and writing to the close reading text.
Be sure to's
- Use a rich complex text worthy of rereading.
- Allow students to access the text without too much frontloading of content.
- For longer texts, select a particularly dense or memorable portion of the text to read closely.
Tools and Resources
- Don't miss Student Achievement Partners' Close Reading Model Lessons!
- Download a step-by-step guide, A Framework for Close Reading, for preparing, implementing, and assessing close reading lessons by veteran educator David Liben.
- Watch this video from The Teaching Channel about Thinking Notes: A Strategy to Encourage Close Reading.
- This video from Expeditionary Learning shows students closely reading an informational text.
- Tim Shanahan writes about close reading in his blog.
- Learn about Supporting Students in Close Reading, a resource by Barbara Jones, Sandy Chang, Margaret Heritage, and Glory Tobiason produced by the the Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation.
- Plain Talk from Doug Fisher on Close Reading is a great brief video to help you understand the gist of close reading.
- Larry Ferlazzo's blog is filled with links to excellent resources on close reading.
- Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst shares practices for helping students closely read text. You can look at a sample chapter.
- Resources from the New York Times to support close reading add a twist by using photos.
- This article by Nancy Boyles takes a look at close reading in the lower grades: Closing in on Close Reading.
- In Implementing the Common Core Standards: A Primer on Close Reading of Text, authors Sheila Brown and Lee Kappes look at the importance of close reading in becoming college and career ready.
- Close Reading in Elementary Schools by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey explores close reading as an elementary practice.
- Diane Lapp's article Teaching Students to Closely Read Texts: How and When offers steps and strategies for close reading.
- Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey examine the significance of text complexity in choosing texts for close reading in their article Engaging the Adolescent Learner: Text Complexity and Close Readings.