Sunday, May 28, 2017

Are your close reading lessons preparing students for the world they will inherit?

Do a search in Teachers Pay Teachers for close reading and you will discover that for many teachers, close reading has become a practice of students reading short passages, annotating the text, and then writing answers to text dependent questions or filling in a graphic organizer. There are hundreds of ready to print close reading passages and comprehension questions available for purchase. You can buy passages for any popular topic, holiday or season.  Students can complete them for morning work, homework, busy work, and daily practice during the reading block. Teachers are happy because they are “doing” required close reading with their students. 

But, what do these close reading short passages achieve?

  • Bored students who groan at the thought of another close reading worksheet.
  • Students who view close reading as a dry, isolated task that you do in school for the teacher.
  • Students who are prepared for more annotation of short passages and more answering of teacher created questions.
  • Students who see close reading questions as ends to themselves rather than as a means.
  • Students who think the word text refers to a short passage of text in a test or on a worksheet.

If the deep understanding that students develop through the process does not extend into meaningful talk or writing, students will see close reading questions as ends to themselves rather than as a means.

What should close reading achieve?
  • Students who are inspired by the texts that they read closely, seeing how they are relevant to their own lives.
  • Students who are prepared for more than just more school assignments, they are better prepared for the challenges of their future.
  • Students who view close reading as a way to better understand the challenging texts they encounter.
  • Students who understand that the word text can refer multi genres and multimedia: an article, a book, an excerpt, a web page, photographs, documents, or videos.

 I would like to think that beyond preparing students for more book learning, we are also preparing them for the world they will inherit. Nancy Boyles, Closer Reading:  Grades 3-6

Can close reading make a positive difference to students own well-being and the well-being of others?

I hope that our close readers of today will look back on their education, even their elementary school years, and conclude that those complex texts they labored to read have somehow made a positive difference, not just to their own well-being but to the well-being of others. Nancy Boyles, Closer Reading:  Grades 3-6

When we develop a series of close reading lessons, we need to think about the following questions:

  • What do we want students to do with the texts they have read and the close reading they have done? What bigger goals beyond the standards do we hope to achieve?
  • How is the meaning they glean from these texts relevant to their lives? How will it promote respect and responsibility?
  • How will the close reading experiences inspire students to take action in making a difference in their lives and the lives of others?

 GetReal Close Reading Lessons

Besides this blog, we have a TeachersPayTeachers store called GetReal. We are committed to authentic literacy learning and lately our passion has been to develop close reading lessons that go beyond close reading for the sake of close reading.

We use real texts about real people; the challenges that they faced and how they handled those challenges.  Students learn big life lessons about beliefs, values, character, and mindset. 

Our lessons require the teacher to be an active facilitator of the close reading process, asking text dependent questions, probing students to think deeply, as they uncover the layers of meaning in the text, and reflecting on how the message of the text is relevant to their own lives. 

Our lessons begin with questions that provide purpose to the reading such as What is brave? How do we achieve our dreams? and What is the secret to people’s success?

We use multi-genre text sets so that students synthesize meaning across texts, integrating knowledge and making it their own. 

 Available Close Reading Lessons

How do we achieve our dreams? 

What is brave?  

Who are Thomas Edison and Henry Ford and what is the secret to their success? 

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