Saturday, September 7, 2013

Common Core Places High Priority on Close Reading

Common Core Places High Priority 

on Close Reading

 Do We Know What Close Reading Is?

Part 1

The Common Core document states that students must acquire the habits of reading independently and closely, which are essential to their future success.

               Earlier this week an email invitation came from the author of my new favorite book on student research announcing a 7-week blog-a-thon on close reading.  Although I wasn’t sure what a blog-a-thon was, it sounded good—I’m in.  

                As I was reading Christopher Lehman’s first blog on close reading,  followed by his blogging partner, Kate Roberts' first post later in the week, my brain automatically shifted into background knowledge mode. Everything I knew about close reading seemed to form a gigantic mental circle map. My definition of close reading steadily has evolved over the past 1½ years and the niggling question I have today is, “Do we all agree on the definition of close reading?”  I think not.  Even if there were definitive agreement, interpretation and lesson delivery would wear unique faces. This will forever be the case in education and represents our essential teaching freedom. It's a good thing.

                Although, I can’t guarantee I will blog on close reading for the next seven weeks, 
I feel the enormity and weight worthiness of this topic and realize there is much too much information for a pittance of a post.  To serve as our introduction I would like to share a few thoughts and provide you with some excellent resources as I plan to do each and every week.  

                The CCSS document states that students must acquire the habits of reading independently and closely, which are essential to their future success. Reading closely is a reader action verb. An understatement since the reader must work hard, have stamina, and persevere.  Simply put, close reading is not for wimps.  All would agree that re-reading is the means to unlocking deeper meanings of the text, recognizing details and nuances that were most likely unnoticed during the first read.  We are talking about layers of understanding.
Visualize an onion. 

                Collectively, we have been successfully teaching the seven strategies of comprehension to our students with finesse and with an unconscious competence. This makes perfect sense considering we’ve been at it for quite awhile. Close reading pushes us directly to DEF-CON 4—it is the synthesis, or all of the strategies AND MORE, to be used by our students on a single piece of text.  Hopefully we are not having our students close read an entire book, an entire chapter; instead, teachers need to be searching out and intentionally selecting short passages to scaffold the high level thinking we are asking our students to do while they close read.  

               In our attempt to make our students college and career ready we can’t lose sight of the much bigger goal of creating lifelong readers. We still want our students to love reading—I believe Common Core seeks an analytic, empowered reader.  Consider the magnitude of both loving to read paired with a 21st Century analytic empowerment.  
Just the thought makes my heart smile. How about you? Choose any one of the videos linked below to view if you have a moment. I guarantee you will find at least one idea and be inspired to try something new in your classroom on Monday. Enjoy your weekend.


p.s. If you care to leave a comment,  open the drop down menu, click on name/URL. You only have to provide your name and can leave URL space blank. Hope that helps.

Links for GREAT close reading lessons

Close Reading grades 3-5

Close Reading 4th grade

Close Reading 5th grade

Close Reading 6th grade

12th Grade Learning to Think: A Foundation for Analysis

from the Teaching Channel. You might have to join The
Teaching Channel  but totally worth it. Its Free.
Amazing lesson.

Examples of Close Reading Lesson Plans
I haven't studied these yet. Hopefully, they are not end-of-the-chapter questions re-branded as close reading. Close Reading Units for Grades 6-12 from the site

Just One More Thing...
It's Friday, 2:30 central time, an email just popped up announcing and linking to a podcast on Close Reading
sponsored by the Choice Literacy website. This podcast is a conversation between Chris Leyman, Kate Roberts, and Franki Sibberson. Choice Literacy is my all time favorite online hangout. Enjoy.


  1. I found this blog interesting but it raised questions in my mind. I am a beginner and I am not even sure what the seven strategies of comprehension are! However, I did check out some of the videos and I found them enlightening. Your Blog made me realize how very complex close reading is and I do hope you will cover it even more thoroughly in future Blogs. I did love your comment about loving to read with 21st century analytic empowerment - those two things should not and can not be mutually exclusive. Thanks for allowing me to comment and raise questions.

  2. Alexandra, I am glad you received my email on this. I love your questions. Thank you so much for already being a faithful Saturday Morning reader. Cathe