Close reading is a reading strategy that I utilize with my students ALL YEAR, but during test-prep time, it gets a bit more focus. By having students read a passage multiple times and mark up the text as they are reading, they will becoming more focused and attentive readers. If you are looking for a way to enhance your students’ work with close reading, here are some strategies that have worked for me…
Tip #1: Use close reading to enhance the skills you are already teaching!
Close reading is a reading strategy that works best when used alongside the learning your students are already tackling. Best practice is not giving our students reading passage after reading passage and having them respond to the text-based questions that accompany the selection. Instead, find passages that enhance the work you are doing with students.
For example, I have used a passage How to Make a Valentine during our work with order and sequence. Through the close reading process, my students could read the selection multiple times in order to identify: clue words of order and sequence, the organization of the text, and make any connections to the title and process shared in the text. This one page, seasonally-relevant reading passage kept their focus and targeted the skill of being able to identify characteristics of informational text that has the order and sequence text structure.
Tip #2: Close reading is a strategy, not a curriculum.
In my ELA classroom, my focus is on helping my students enhance their LOVE of reading. While reading one-two page passages is a PART of our learning, it is NOT THE CORE of what we do each day. Our core ELA curriculum includes literature circles, read alouds, and self-selected reading. My GOAL is to enhance my students love of reading and help them become life-long readers. My work, however, incorporates teaching specific skills that my students MUST have to be thoughtful and critical readers as they analyze and respond to text, which is where mini-lessons and close reading come into play.
Tip #3: Have a specific purpose for each close read.
Do your students need greater focus on citing evidence from a text? Are you wanting students to make connections to make sense of what they are reading and physically mark up their reading selections? Do you want students to enhance their work with literal questions? When choosing close reading passages to share, have a specific purpose for making your selection. Be careful not to assign close reading just to keep students busy. Otherwise they will grow to hate it and the benefit is completely diminished.
Tip #4: Use close reading as whole class, small group, or independent instruction.
My students have very diverse reading levels, skill sets, and needs. I have some students that grasp concepts very quickly and easily, while others take more time to show their understanding. While I teach the close reading process to ALL of my students, not everyone needs to be reading text multiple times and marking it up to show their thinking ALL OF THE TIME.
Close reading activities can used with the whole class in order to navigate the different text structures. It can also be used with intervention groups and independent reading times. The key is to differentiate the need for close reading instruction to meet your students’ needs.
Tip #5: Make it FUN and CHANGE it UP!!
To enhance the goals of close reading, I teach my students FRUIT! The FRUIT acronym is an easy way for my students to remember all that I want them to do when tackling a passage using close reading. It is memorable and can be done with both digital and printable reading selections.
If you are looking for high-interest passages and comprehension activities for your students, I have created several seasonal close reading tools. These can be used for weekly reading homework, center work, read-to-self, read-to-someone, whole class strategy work, or one-on-one intervention.
As you work to target and enhance your students reading skills, try these close reading passages in your classroom!