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A Closer Look at

Close Reading
Carol Bush
Professional Development Specialist
Center for School Improvement & Professional Development
Orleans/Niagara BOCES

What does the Common Core say about

text complexity and close reading?

Shift 3 & 4: Staircase of Complexity and Text-based


Standard 1: Read closely to determine what the text

says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it;
cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking
to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Standard 10: Read and comprehend complex literary

and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Appendix A: Supporting research for basis of text


Appendix B: Compiled list of authentic texts at

appropriate grade band complexities.

A few tips for close


Independent close reading generally begins in 3 rd grade

The task(s) associated with close reading will determine how

complex the text must/can be

Must raise engagement and joy, not diminish it

Must lead to student independence, not dependence on teacher


Must be one part of your reading instruction, not the only part

Close reading does not necessarily occur every day or in every

lesson but it should occur on a regular basis

There are various approaches to close reading and it should be

designed in response to your students needs not just part of a
scope and sequence or an activity that matches a specific book

So what exactly is
close reading?
Rereading for the purpose of recognizing details and nuances

of text that may go unnoticed during a cursory first read so

that new understandings and insights may reveal themselves
Burkins and Yaris

It requires students to get truly involved with the text they are

reading. The purpose is to teach them to notice features and

language used by the author.
Reading A-Z

Figuring out a high quality text

Timothy Shanahan

A careful and purposeful rereading of a text

Douglas Fisher

So what exactly is close

reading of text?
Close reading is a careful and purposeful

rereading of a text.

It allows students to experience the text on their

own (without the teacher doing a lot of the work for

Questions invite students back into the text several

times to discover some of the key ideas and details,
the authors purpose, the story structure, etc.
Students gather the clues on their own (as a result
of strategic questioning techniques) to develop
overall comprehension of the text.

Strategy #1: Close

Reading for a Specific
Set purpose for reading
Cold read of complex text (limited frontloading)
Repeated readings of short passages within the

text (leading to specific purpose)

Text-dependent questions (ultimate goal is to

lead students to ask the questions)

Lets Read!

Read through The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg

On a sheet of paper, write down who you think the

stranger is.

Taking a closer look

Important pages to look at



Characteristics of Close
Reading for a Specific
Complex text
Short passages
Limited frontloading
Repeated readings
Text-dependent questions

Creating a close reading

with The Wretched

Select a complex text.

Determine what students should walk away with as a

result of reading this text.

Determine the sections of the text that will lead students

to this discovery and are worth rereading.

Identify any elements that need to be frontloaded (for the

sections of text that students will be rereading).

Design questions that invite students back into the text to

discover its complexity (80%).

Questions should build background knowledge and lead to

overall comprehension.

Strategy #2: Lower the

Set purpose for reading
Cold read of complex text (limited frontloading)
Analysis of text on 4 levels (leading to overall


Word/phrase level

Sentence level

Passage level

Story level

Text-dependent questions

Strategy #3: Annotation

Set purpose for reading

Cold read of complex text (limited frontloading)

Systematic process for annotation (scaffolded)

Circling, underlining, highlighting

Marginal notes

Sticky notes

What to annotate

Important words/phrases

Key ideas

Supporting details

Passage/Paragraph summaries

Confusing parts

Annotating Text

Three-step process (applicable to media, narratives, and

informational text)

Read through different lenses

Identify patterns

Develop a new understanding of the text based on the patterns

Nuts & Bolts

Text evidence

Word choice


Making the Declaration of Independence Come

Alive (lower the level/annotation)

Tapestry Charter School (annotation/close

reading for a specific purpose)

Never underestimate the power of discussion
Text Talk Time
N-word Socratic Seminar

Claims/Counterclaims Socratic Seminar

Carol H. Bush
Professional Development Specialist
Center for School Improvement and Professional
Orleans/Niagara BOCES
716-731-6800 x3755