Sunday, January 18, 2015

Close Reading - A Beginning Lesson

 We've been doing a lot of staff development training at my school about Close Reading. Having more exposure and scenarios to draw from, it's starting to make more sense now. Getting the students to dig deeper into their understanding of a piece helps them practice picking out details and responding in much more elaborate ways.
I've tried the strategies of having interact with pieces for the past two years now. As they read a new piece they highlight certain information throughout. I have them draw a box around any key vocabulary, underline main ideas, put question marks next to statements that confuse them, and to draw a 'cloud' around any words they don't understand.
I've now learned to slow them down. Have them pick things out piece by piece and read with a purpose rather than try to make them accomplish it all in one go. We read an article from the Chicago Tribune about bullying through independently once just to get the 'flow.' It can be found on the Georgia Department of Education website in the Third Grade packet.

Then I had them write down what they thought the main idea of the WHOLE piece was about. We had talked about not picking out details from one section, but really thinking about what all of the information was saying together. I drew this chart and had the first student come up and read out his sticky note. Then he placed it in Quadrant One of the chart. Student two came up and read her sticky note, thought whether hers was similar Student One or did it warrant placing it in another Quadrant. We went on from there until all the stickies were on the chart. Not one of the ideas shared was wrong as to what the main idea could be. That was interesting.
By the end it was quite clear what the majority of the class thought the main idea of the piece was.
In the next lesson, a Second Read if you will, the piece was broken down into smaller sections already so we looked at each and discussed what we thought was the main idea of those. Once we had all of the section main ideas, we thought about how each were used to help out the overall main idea and wrote out explanation sentences.
For the Third Read, I set the purpose to be looking for the author's opinion. What words did they use to let the reader know how they felt about bullying. Students responded in the margins as to whether they agreed or disagreed with the author's opinion. Then we used this information to write a constructed response sharing our opinion as to whether we agreed or disagreed with the author.
Having the students go through the piece more than once with a set purpose allows them to focus on one big idea at a time rather than asking them to comprehend everything about it.  
Next week I'll be sharing a booklet I made with another Close Reading strategy. I'll have more to share once we've worked through that.
But for now I am pleased to see them thinking and paying attention to the passage in a more aggressive manner. That's sure going to be helpful come testing time.
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