Saturday, March 28, 2015

Close Reading That Sticks

Are you integrating close reading lessons into your ELA instruction?

I began this year very enthusiastic about doing close reading lessons with my students. I attended a summer academy to learn about it, and I did a lot of research to ensure that I was implementing it correctly and effectively. 

The idea of having students write notes while they read a complex text sounds obvious to experienced readers like you and me, but we've had our whole lives to develop that understanding. Kids love writing on sticky notes, so I knew their engagement would be high, but that alone doesn't guarantee success. The Common Core is now expecting eight and nine year olds to analyze a text with expertise. It's not that easy; they aren't sure where to start. 

I had done a few lessons initially but felt like my students had no real direction without my guidance at each step. While that makes sense for early lessons, I didn't feel like they would be able to be independent with reading closely. And that's the whole point of any reading lesson, isn't it?

I had seen some reading strategy bookmarks on Pinterest, and even some great text marking bookmarks. But I felt like these were too extensive for third graders just learning how to "read to learn." Sometimes it's best to start out with the basics, and grow from there. 

That was the inspiration for me to create simple bookmarks with clear visual cues to help my students use sticky notes when they're reading closely. 

I noticed a difference immediately! Before using my bookmarks, my students understood "reading for the gist" the first time, but their second and third reads were not as focused without a game plan. Their bookmarks solve that problem. It gives them a clear and definite guide to what to write using sticky notes, and keeps the process simple. 

Close Reading Bookmarks in Action! 

Focusing on four main areas, and consistently using the same visual cues, my students are better able to analyze a complex text, breaking it down into its most basic ideas. The bookmarks make an abstract concept tangible, and break the process down into more manageable tasks.

I'm excited again about doing close reading lessons with my students. And that's a great feeling, indeed. 

I'd love to know how you've found success doing close reading lessons in your classroom! 

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