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Close Reading

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Brooke Burkhart

on 27 April 2015

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Transcript of Close Reading

Close Reading
The History of Close Reading
Close reading gained popularity from the 1930s through the 1960s. The term has become associated with the methodical reading of a text. Close Reading involves sustained multiple readings of the text, each successive reading has a different purpose.

New Criticism theorists such as Richards (1929) and Brooks (1947) stipulated close reading as a rigorous objective method for extracting the correct meaning of a text. Such a reading seeks to discover a text’s explicit meaning by meticulously analyzing patterns in its language and the ways the patterns combine throughout a text. (Hinchman and Moore, p. 443)

Close Reading has gone through various incarnations through philosophical buttressing. Reader Response theorists, Critical theorists, and Deconstructionists have all used some principles of Close Reading.

“Thus, advocates of close reading share a view that readers should actively examine texts multiple times to grasp more and more meaning and to realize better and better how texts are constructed to communicate meaning. However, notions differ regarding which features of text construction to consider and how to consider them.” (Hinchman and Moore, p. 444)

Close Reading is an educational practice that was developed for secondary levels of education, the research to show that it is effective at the elementary level is lacking (Hinchman and Moore).
2 purposes
1) Allows students to relate new textual information to their existing background knowledge and prior experiences in order to expand their schema
2) Builds necessary habits that readers need when reading a complex piece of text

These habits are:
identifying their own purpose for reading the text,
determining author's purpose,
developing their own schema,
considering the thought systems of a discipline (genres) - for example a poem differs from a science article

Things to remember:
Close Reading was developed in the 1920s. The seminal work was that of Richards, especially in the work Principles of Literary Criticism. It was originally referred to as the New Criticism. (North, 2013)

Though Close Reading has been used in secondary classrooms for years, the research endorsing it at the elementary level has lagged behind. (Hinchman and Moore, 2013)

Close Reading emphasizes the use of text dependent questions.
By: Michael Wilhelm, Marie Zwick, Jennifer Moore, Suellen Alexander, Angel Braswell, and Brooke Burkhart
Close reading must be accompanied by other essential instructional practices
1) interactive read aloud and shared reading
2) teacher modeling and think aloud
3) guided reading with leveled texts
4) collaborative reading and discussion
5) independent reading and writing

*When reading is easily understood and
simply organized and when skimming a text
Key Features:
1) short passages
2) complex texts
3) limited front loading
4) repeated readings
5) text-dependent questions
6) annotations
Short passages - should range from a few paragraphs to a couple of pages

complex text - text should be above the students' independent reading level

limited front loading - limit the amount of pre-teaching and front loading. Set a purpose but do not have lengthy discussions about the meaning of the text

Repeated readings - each reading has a different purpose or question to be answered

text-dependent questions- answers to questions requires students to provide evidence from the text in their responses. Students must explain where they found the evidence in the text

annotation - students take notes on sticky notes, circle or underline words or sections, write notes in the margins. This allows students to find the evidence needed when answering questions

Who is speaking in the passage?

Who seems to be the main audience? (To whom is the narrator speaking?)

What is the first thing that jumps out at me? Why?

What’s the next thing I notice? Are these two things connected? How? Do they seem to be saying different things?

What seems important here? Why?

What does the author mean by ______? What exact words lead me to this meaning?

Students who learn to ask themselves such questions are reading with the discerning eye of a careful reader.
Real World Examples of Close Reading
Current Thoughts on Close Reading
The following video depicts an example of close reading in which a teacher uses Common Core Literacy reading strategies with an informational text. His lesson is designed to help students
see the connections between important
details and the main idea of the article.
Boyles, 2012, p. 41
This video is an example of a 5th grade teacher using close reading in a small group lesson.
What must we keep in mind to effectively incorporate close reading in the classroom?

"Teaching close reading is not the same as chopping up a book into so many pieces that it becomes unrecognizable. It is accomplished better by having students read large, uninterrupted chunks of text and then strategically having them return to key passages for second- or third-draft reading and thinking." (Gallagher, 2010, p. 40)
If we are going to use close reading effectively, then how should children be reading?
How Close Reading Relates to Literacy Diagnostic Procedures
Handouts and Resources Teachers Can Give to Parents About Close Reading...
Incorporating close reading strategies prepares students for a range of skills.
Formative Performance Tasks:
Reading Comprehension
Diagnostic Tools
Word-level reading
Foundational Skills
Independent Reading Level
Shared Research Projects
What is Close Reading

"Close reading is thoughtful, critical analysis of a text that focuses on significant details or patterns in order to develop a deep, precise understanding of the text's form, craft, meanings, etc." (Burke, 2014).

Close Reading Includes:
using short passages and excerpts
diving right into the text with limited pre-reading activities
reading deliberately
reading with a pencil
noticing things that are confusing
discussing text with others
responding to text-dependent questions
Selecting a text

According to Tim Shanahan, "close reading is a multi-day committment to a text: you want students to read a text that offers rich enough vocabulary, ideas, and information to read, examine, and discuss over those days without feeling like you're beating a dead horse, " (Burke, 2014).

When choosing a text, you need to consider the three components of text complexity - qualitative measures, quantative measures, and the reader and the task.
Implications for Today's NC Teachers
Steps in Close Reading

1) First Read: key ideas and details
2) Second Read: craft and structure
3) Third read: integration of knowledge and ideas
First Read- key ideas and details
set the purpose
students read as independently as possible
1st read can be done independently, as a read aloud/think aloud, or paired or shared reading
should be done without building background knowledge
students should integrate their own background knowledge with the text as they read
focus on key ideas and details, make sure readers know main idea, story elements, or key details that the author includes
Second Read - craft and structure
select a portion or chunk of text that is "close read worthy"
students reread a section that includes complex ideas
should allow students to gain a deep understanding of the text
focus on author's craft and organizational patterns - includes: vocabulary choices, text structure, or text features
Third Read - integration of knowledge and ideas

should go even deeper
requires students to synthesize and analyze information from several texts or media
students record ideas on sticky notes, graphic organizers, or thinking sheets
This handout gives parents an idea of strategies to use when their child reads at home to support close reading.
This handout gives parents a list of questions to ask when reading to or when having their child read to them at home to support close reading.
A great way to introduce Close Reading to parents would be to explain the topic at an open house or a curriculum night at the beginning of the school year.
A great way to do this would be to show a short, informational video explaining exactly what Close Reading is and what their child or children will learn from utilizing Close Reading in the classroom. The video below is an example of an informational video that can be utilized during an open house or curriculum night...
Examples of questions to send home for parents to ask during reading...
Close Reading Questions

First Reading: Determine what the text says.

• What is the text about?
• What is the theme of the story?
• What was _____ (character) like, and what did he/she do in the story?

Second Reading: Figure out how the text works

• What does _____ (a word from the text) mean in this context?
• Who is telling this part of the story?
• What is the author’s purpose for this section?

Third Reading: Analyze and compare the text

• What information do these illustrations add to the text? Or, how does this picture differ from what the author wrote?
• Compare _____ (an aspect of the text, such as character or main idea) with the same aspect in another text by the same author. (Readers can also examine texts on the same topic or from the same genre.)
• What reasons does the author give to support _____ (one of the ideas)?

"In close reading, student responses to text-dependent questions are the primary source of evidence teachers use to gauge how students are engaging with the text and the degree to which they are accomplishing the reading goals" (Jones et al, 2014, p. 21).
CCSS-centered curriculum guidelines focus on close reading
Close Reading and the
Common Core
"As stated in the CCSS, today’s students are asked to read closely to determine what the text says explicitly, to make logical inferences from their interactions with a text, and cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text" (Serafini, p. 299, 2013).
"Close reading of text is designed to produce a, “coherent representation of what the text says” (Serafini, p. 300, 2013).
According to the CCSS (NGA Center & CCSSO, 2010 ) students are required to “actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews" (Serafini, p. 300, 2013).

"The focus in the CCSS is on the acquisition of knowledge and expanding students’
experiences and perspectives, not the aesthetic response of the reader, the appreciation of the text structure, or the author’s craft" (Serafini, p. 300, 2013).

"The CCSS call for a 50/50 balance between informational and literary texts in grades K–5, progressing toward a 70/30 blend in upper grades. The standards also expect texts worthy of close attention to present a staircase of increasing complexity "(Hinchman, p. 442, 2013).

"CCSS-based student assessments also emphasize close reading" (Hinchman, p. 442, 2013).
"Close reading and gathering knowledge from specific texts should be at the heart of classroom activities and not be consigned to the margins when completing assignments,” (Hinchman, p. 442, 2013).

Close reading is very important and should be done two to three times a week in the classroom.

Is the author trying to convince me of something? What? How do I know?

Is there something missing from this passage that I expected to find? Why might the author have left this out?

Is there anything that could have been explained more thoroughly for greater clarity?

Is there a message or main idea? What in the text led me to this conclusion?

How does this sentence/passage fit into the text as a whole? (Boyles, 2012, p. 41)
Boyles, N. (2012). Closing in on close reading. Educational Leadership, 70(4), 36-41. Retrieved on February 21, 2015 from

Brown, S. & Butler, A. (2013). Reading Strategy Instruction vs. Close Reading. LiLaaC: Literacy, Language, and Culture. Retrieved on February 14, 2015 from

Burke, B. (n.d.). A Close Look at Close Reading. Retrieved April 9, 2015, from

Chang, S., Heritage, M., Jones, B., & Tobiason, G. (2014). Supporting students in close reading. The Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation, 1-46. Retrieved April 11, 2015, from

Capitol Region Education Council. (2013, February 20). Meg Smith, Close Reading - Grade 5. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Dalton, B. (2013). Engaging Children in Close Reading: Multimodal Commentaries and Illustration Remix. Reading Teacher, 66(8), 642-649. doi:10.1002/trtr.1172

Elementary Lesson Plans. (n.d.). Close Reading Video. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2012). Close Reading In Elementary Schools. Reading Teacher, 66(3), 179-188. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01117

Gallagher, K. (2010). Reversing Readicide. Educational Leadership, 67(6), 36-41. Retrieved from

Hinchman, K. A., & Moore, D. W. (2013). Close Reading: A Cautionary Interpretation. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(6), 441-450. doi:10.1002/JAAL.163

Houser, K. (n.d.). Close Reading Anchor Chart. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from h

IntelligenceSquared. (2014). Does Common Core's Focus on 'Close Reading' Make Sense? (YouTube)

This handout is another great resource to give out to parents. It explains some important aspects of Close Reading such as choosing books that are an appropriate reading level for their child, how reading can become a part of family time, how to read with a beginning reader, and the importance of checking for understanding of a text.
(Elementary Lesson Plans, "Close Reading Video")
(Houser, "Close Reading Anchor Chart")
("Take Home Binders and a Freebie", 2014)
("Tips For Parents- Reading At Home")
Kate Oubre has taught high school students for over fourteen years. She strives to teach her students how to think independently and go back to the text whenever they have questions.

She agrees "with the Common Core’s emphasis on what the text “says” as a way “in” to the study of a literary text, (Oubre, p. 66, 2014).
She says that her "two favorite questions are “What do you think?” and
“How do you know?” (Oubre, p. 67, 2014).

These two questions make students think for themselves and prove their own answers instead of just waiting to get the 'correct answer.' According to Oubre, the students learn more and take pride in their learning when made to prove their answers. This is what Close Reading is about; making students think deeper about a text.
The focus on close reading has caused many of us to reflect on how we teach children to respond to and analyze text. Especially for elementary-grade children, how do we support them in developing their ability to closely examine text to develop nuanced understandings and arguments? (Dalton, p. 643, 2013).
According to Dalton, young readers can even use picture books for close reading. They can look at the pictures to see what content is in the picture, how the illustrator made the picture, and the color and layout of the picture. All these details give deeper meaning to the text of the book, (Dalton, 2013).
For nonfiction texts, the integration of textual and graphic information is especially important, because the graphics often carry a heavy content load, (Dalton, p. 643, 2013).
In the broadest sense, close reading is a focused rereading of a text in which you go beyond a basic understanding of the text. It may involve a passage or key quotation from a text or an entire text, depending on the length. We may reread with a general purpose, such as trying to analyze how the author uses language to evoke an emotional response, (Dalton, p. 643, 2013).

It is important for parents to understand the impacts of using Close Reading in the classroom and how it relates to their child's success in school....
What Should Parents Know About Close Reading?
Through close reading, students are able to read increasingly complex texts independently (Chang, 2014).
Through close reading students can accomplish some major goals of the English Language Arts and Literacy Common Core State Standards. Specifically in the areas of key ideas and details, craft and structure, and integration of knowledge and ideas (Chang, 2014).
A significant amount of research links close reading to significant gains in reading proficiency and finds close reading to be a key component of college and career readiness (Boyles, 2012).
Positive Impacts of Close Reading...
The following video explains how to choose a text for close reading:
McGraw-Hill Education. (2012). Douglas Fisher: Close Reading and the CCSS, Part 1 (YouTube)

McGraw-Hill Education. (2012). Douglas Fisher: Close Reading and the CCSS, Part 2 (YouTube)

North , Joseph. (2013). What's "New Critical" about "Close Reading?" I. A. Richards and His New Critical Reception. New Literary History, 44(1), 141-157, 200. Retrieved 3/15/2015 at .

Oubre, K. (2014). Many "Right Answers," Many "Wrong Ones": A Defense of Close Reading in the High School Classroom. Style, 48(1), 66-70.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. (2014, September). PARCC Model Content Frameworks. A Companion To The Common Core State Standards. English Language Arts / Literacy: Kindergarten Through Grade 2. Retrieved from

Platt, R. (2014, November 18). Response: Teaching 'Close Reading' - Part Three. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from

Rogenski, J. (2013, October 21). Common Core Literacy Close Reading Strategies with Informational Text [Video File]. Retrieved from

Serafini, F. (2013). Close Readings and Children's Literature. Reading Teacher, 67(4), 299-301. doi:10.1002/trtr.1213

Take Home Binders and a Freebie. (2014, August 28). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from

Teaching With Challenging Texts in the Disciplines. (2013). Zhihui Fang and Barbara Pace. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. 57 (2) pp. 104-108. Retrieved 3/17/15.

Tips For Parents- Reading At Home. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2015, from"

Web English Teacher (2014, December 9). Elementary Close Reading Passages, Grades 1-6. Retrieved from

In literary theory to read closely, is to investigate the specific strength of a literary work in as many possible details as possible. It also means understanding how text works, how it creates its effects on the most minute levels. Close reading includes a productive attentiveness to texts, a way of attending texts to the interplay of saying and meaning. Yet, recommendations for conducting the methodical interpretation of text, referred to as close reading vary in important ways. (Hinchman and Moore, p. 443)
Advocates of close reading share a view that readers should actively examine texts multiple times to grasp more and more meaning and to realize better and better how texts are constructed to communicate meaning. (Hinchman and Moore, p. 444)
"The Common Core standards suggest several genres of short text, both lit­erary and informational, that can work at the elementary level. Many kinds of traditional literature—folktales, legends, myths, fables, as well as short stories, poetry, and scenes from plays enable and reward close reading. For informational works, try short articles, bio­graphies, personal narratives, and even some easier primary source materials, such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, or sayings from Poor Richard’s Almanac, " (Boyles, p. 38, 2013).
"Because children’s listening comprehension outpaces their reading comprehension in the early grades, it’s important that your students build knowledge through being read to as well as through inde­pendent reading, with the balance gradually shifting to silent, independent reading," (Boyles, p. 38, 2013).

Close Reading PLT Follow Up Activity

Using slides 14, 16, and 18 from the Close Reading Presentation, complete the following activity:

1) Choose a text that is close reading appropriate
2) Compose 3 questions that students would answer the first time they read the text – see slide 14
3) Compose 3 questions that students would answer the second time they read the text – see slide 16
4) Compose 3 questions that students would answer the third time they read the text – see slide 18

Remember all questions must be able to be answered using evidence from the text.

The need to find and implement effective reading strategies is ongoing.
There are arguments both for and against the use of close reading, as noted in the the following IntelligenceSquared debate.
In order to better understand exactly how close reading differs from previous reading strategy instruction methods, a side-by-side comparison is offered by LiLaaC: Literacy, Language, and Culture
"If reading closely is the most effective way to achieve deep comprehension, then that's how we should teach students."
(Boyles, 2012, p.37)
Close Reading Presentation
Full transcript