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Why and How to Start Close Reading With Your Learners

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Carmel McDonald

on 2 December 2016

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Transcript of Why and How to Start Close Reading With Your Learners

What is Close Reading?
an analytical look at a short passage of text. Students
layers of meaning as they
words, images, structures, and central ideas in well-written texts

"microscope" reading
Part of the literacy "ecosystem" in a classroom.
Close reading skills "leak" into all other parts of the learning
Can look a variety of different ways and can be used in a variety of formats and subjects
NOT a formula
It facilitates higher-order thinking
Opportunities Within the School Day
whole class: "accountable talk" discussions
shoulder partner conversations within the whole-class discussions
literature circles
reading workshop conferences
*cross-curricular, content areas
*test directions
dialogue journals and book talks
any "spontawesome" opportunities to talk about books
writing conferences

*What Close Reading Is NOT
students read a passage and answer questions on it after the fact
textbook work
teacher lectures
reading and re-reading with no "unpacking"
students being led to specifics, rather than exploring
no opportunities for "heavy lifting"
the essential point: it's not a formula!
"Stops Along the Path"
setting the stage
central ideas (meaning)
words and phrases
structure (author's craft)
evaluation and connection

The Goals
ALWAYS our utmost goal: to
students into richly literate lives
students to look at words and texts (and themselves) in a new and confident way
students to think critically about what they read
for students that reading and writing have the power to change our lives, and
our worlds
To get students reading
"independently and proficiently"
Why and How to Start Close Reading With Your Learners

Who are you, Carmel McDonald and Danielle Smith?
Setting the Stage
providing context, information about an author, background
first reading
first impressions
defining unknown (or "iffy") words, using context clues or resources at our disposal
*one-word summary or sound effect
Central Ideas
what does the author want us to think about?
can we find proof for that in the text?
Can we identify central ideas, main idea, themes?
Words and Phrases
Can we identify and explore the figurative language, diction and tone here?
Word choices
Author's choices
What grammar conventions do we notice?
Structure (Author's Craft)
(tends to be the hardest for our learners)

How is this text put together?
Why did the author choose to put the text together in this way?
How does the structure of this piece relate to the meaning of this piece?
What techniques does this author show us that we could apply in our writing?
Evaluation and Connection
What did this text remind you of? Why?
There are other books on our shelf that are like this. Does this make you want to try one?
(great opportunity for movement!)
Classroom Conversations: What is "Accountable Talk?"
conversation that "stays within the corners of the text" (Calkins)
focused, text-based
accountable to knowledge
accountable to the community of learners
the "yes, and..." principle
for teachers, the accountability of talking LESS THAN the students
Accountable Talk Phrases:
(used in any conversation format):
 “I agree with __________ because…”
 “To add to what ________ shared....”
 “Another thing I noticed about the text was…”
 “Another way to look at _____________’s idea is…”
 “What ______________ said reminds me of…”
 “Another bit of text that supports _________’s point is…”
 “My idea is a bit different from __________’s, in that….”
 “To extend what __________ was saying…”
 “A side we haven’t discussed yet is…”
 “To piggyback on ___________’s idea…”
Your Turn!
Here are some tips:
keep the "yes, and..." principle in mind
*give evidence for your claims
go with the flow; there is no formula
annotate, using different colors if you like
extend ideas fully. "Keep the ball in the air" as long as you can.
connect, connect, connect!
Next Steps: How Do I Select Texts for Close Reading?
student interest;

great word choices, big ideas
keep the passages small
increase in rigor over the course of the year, matching the proficiency of your learners
build a collection of texts that work
project the text UP. It makes for better conversation.
The Writing Connection
opportunity to "marry" your mini-lessons with your close reading passages
let the experts do the teaching
point out language conventions as you close read together
encourage students to mimic authors they like, and try their techniques
expose the students to a variety of genres, and encourage student choice when it comes to written expression
*Let's Keep the Conversation Going
assessing close reading
oral assessment/formative
Accountable Talk (the "yes..and principle)
genre ideas
grade-level specifics
Speaking of Connect, Connect, Connect...
Carmel McDonald
Danielle Smith

Twitter: @_edumcation
Facebook: EduMcation
Twitter: @Teach_wordsmith

Recommended Reading
Falling in Love With Close Reading
, Lehman and Roberts
Notice and Note
, Beers and Probst
Articles by Fisher and Frey
Full transcript