There was a lot to think about in this first chapter! I have practice close reading for a few years with my students but have learned some new things to tweek my teaching.
An important reminder that the authors spark is that close reading is not having kids "read hard texts individually and independently and then answer questions." The most important part is having kids interact with each other.
I also thought about how the authors described the phases of close reading:
What does the text say?
How does the text work?
What does the text mean?
What does the text inspire you to do?
This helped to guide me in the different purposes for rereading and talking about text. Plus, my construct of essential questions was transformed as I thought about the "big picture" of what the text was intended to do.
Importantly, I was reminded that too much frontloading can take away the students' ability to problem solve when faced with trying to understand text. Close reading/repeated readings and discussion allows for students to have distributed scaffolding and gives them the work of solving text.
I began trying to incorporate close reading into the shared readings I did with my 4th graders and found that after reading this text, I understood the purpose and phases so much better. It helped me a lot to think of it in 4 phases that the authors provide and I love the last phase which asks students what the text inspires them to do next. That question is what will move them forward and possibly into project-based learning which is another area I am interested in exploring more this year. Student discussion and collaboration has always been key in my classroom but I realized that I had not given them enough time to simply read and digest the text enough prior to delving into the deeper level questions.
Key points that were "keepers" for me:
1. Students should be interacting with others in order to facilitate one another's understanding of the text - meaningful conversations that lead to insight
2. TDA questions focus on text aspects including structure, meaning, and the logical inferences one can draw from it.
3. Close reading is really comprehension of structures and ideas on a deeper level and it moves through 4 phases - what does the text say? How does the text work? What does the text mean? What does the text inspire you to do?
4. You must begin with establishing a literal understanding because without that foundation exploring deeper meaning is futile. In this phase we are paying attention to the plot, sequence of events, main claim/idea and supporting details - digging deeper with detail questions that explore relationships of ideas and details. These are the who, what, when, where, why, how much, how many questions that most of us are skilled at asking. The first phase is literal meaning - this makes a lot of sense to me. The first year that I taught 4th grade, I was reading the books for the first or perhaps 2nd time. Now, in my 5th year in that grade, I have read many of them innumerable times and am surprised that I still find something new to consider as the deeper meaning becomes more and more evident. I realize that this is true of students too - they can't possibly be expected to pick up on all of the nuances of a story if they only read it or hear it once.
5. How does the text work? Focus on the piece's mechanics with questions about vocabulary words and phrases to provide opportunities to resolve the unknown. Questions about structure and author's craft are asked here as well. Doing this more effectively during close readings has increased my overall awareness of it and I find myself modeling my thinking as I notice the author's craft while reading picture books that are part of our reading curriculum but not used for close readings. It is wonderful that we are now free to teach reading and writing interchangeably rather than having to keep them separated from each other. I have found that my students' writing have improved as a result.
6. What does the text mean - my personal favorite - trying to peel the layers and discover new meanings is so rewarding to me as a reader and I hope that my students recognize it when I facilitate these lessons. I have always understood that meaning is subjective and it is probably unlikely for a reader to truly understand every motive and intent the author had when writing the piece. I love that we are now explaining this to students and offering them the freedom to come up with their own logical ideas using evidence from the text rather than, like when I was in school, insisting that they come up with the identical idea their teacher had. It is these conversations that will be the most powerful in my opinion because students will hear different points of view all back by evidence and then synthesize in order to decide what their own views and meaning are. Giving our students permission to question the author's credibility and expertise is very empowering. I find that my students are not used to such freedoms and, at first, are taken very aback when offered it. The concept that teachers and students are co-inquirers sits very well with me. I love learning alongside my students and the ideas/concepts that my 4th graders generate never cease to amaze me. I love my classroom to be a place of discovery and conversation. I discourage hand raising and prefer a more casual sort of back and forth in which students get to talk to the text along with me when they are ready to do so. It is a powerful way to teach and learn if you are willing to let loose on your reins a bit.
7. The best close readings are those that leave students with a lot of questions that they still want to answer - I love this too and it is for this reason that I have always chosen the materials I use in class purposely and carefully. Questions drive us forward as learners and once a spark is lit, students are motivated to learn more even when not in school and they view it as fun. What more could a teacher want?
8. Teachers need to thoughtfully and intentionally allow for problems to emerge - close reading is social reading and together they will learn to work out problems and also learn to think for themselves. Problem-solving skills will serve our students well in all subjects as well as in areas outside of school. Learning to form your own opinions and to think for yourself is powerful and life changing - not to mention potentially world changing.
9. Return to the same piece but with a different intent - I can't tell you how many times I have gathered my students on the carpet to read a picture book aloud to them only to have someone raise their hand and tell me that their teacher read it to them last year. It is important f
Began using close reading this year. The lower students are comprehending the story and the higher students are having to cite the evidence despite their resistance to have to cite. It's a win-win! I was unfamiliar with the four phases of text-dependent questions. Phase four intrigues me.
My third graders are just learning to cite evidence. I am guiding them through the process. They are trying to understand the process, but we have a lot of work to do!
Close reading is a strategy I have been incorporating for numerous years as a teacher and involves students to truly dive into their reading in order to analyze the text and print closer. Instead of skimming and having a partial understanding of basics (setting, characters, events, etc.) they are able to dig deep and identify the style, structure, or craft of one's writing evolve.
I know this enables students to extend their knowledge past simple multiple choice questions, such as exploration of other areas of literature and divergent thinking.
The definition of close reading is so important....repeated readings with short complex text. In addition, teachers need to guide students in analyzing the text. My students often want to read quickly just to be finished with a book or text passage. Rereading for different purposes is critical for deeper understanding. I also utilize annotation and have witnessed how it expands the thinking of young readers! I look forward to exploring the four phases of close reading and learning to develop good text dependent questions.
I also began having my 4th grade students annotate the text last year and was thrilled that they began applying that skill in their content classes as well. My daughter's in honor classes in high school and her teachers always require the students to "talk to the text" as they read.
At times it seems like we are stuck or have most of our practice in the "literal level" of most text. As the author points out, "Effective text-dependent questions are the product of the teacher's close reading of the text."
It takes time and worthwhile effort to drill down deep while planning a close reading. The teacher must walk through these phases of close reading to be effective. It is reassuring, to read the author's discussion of these phases and I can picture the information the students were discussing about Casey. Finding the right text and looking at it for the elements or phases discussed in Chapter 1 is a step in the right direction.
I am also thinking about something I read from Michael Fullen about an "implementation dip." Being successful with close reading comes with time and practice. Sometimes students just want to be finished with reading. Once and done seems to be their motto. We are the ones who need to lead our students into the wonderful world of reading.
I have found that my students are shy about doing many things at the beginning of the year - talking with a partner, working in a small group, reading their work to the class. The more they do these things, the more comfortable and skilled they become. This is true of the components of close reading as well. Many students are used to being told what to think rather than being offered the freedom to talk and discover. Once they are comfortable with this type of learning, many grow quite skilled at it.
I teach English as a Second Language. At the beginning of the school year I came across a Fall Close Reading Unit to work on with my 1st and 2nd grade ESL students. This book study fits in perfectly since I have just begun using Close Reading. I loved the idea of reading the text several times looking for different purposes during each read. This all giving the reader a greater understanding of the text. For second language learners Close Reading improves oral reading fluency and vocabulary recognition and comprehension. One of the challenges for me using this concept will be building background knowledge. I need to figure out how much background my students have about a text's given topic and build background where necessary. This all to find the right balance between scaffolding and independent learning. After I build the background knowledge, where necessary, I need to have the students working with the text itself so they can unlock its meaning.