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Three practices bring close reading to the lower grades. A significant body of research links the close reading of complex text—whether the Reading guide questions is a struggling reader or advanced—to significant gains in reading proficiency and finds close reading to be a key component of college and career readiness.
Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers,p. Of course I teach students to read closely—both my university students and younger students, through my literacy consultant work. But on closer examination, I realized I may not be encouraging students to read closely enough to meet the expectations set by these standards.
Exactly what do the Common Core standards mean by close reading? And what principles and practices should guide us as we implement close reading in the classroom—particularly in elementary classrooms? Much of the available information about close reading centers on Reading guide questions schools, where this skill seems to fit most comfortably.
By the time students are in these later grades, they are more inclined to think abstractly. They read complicated texts by great authors that beg for careful analysis.
It needs to find its niche in kindergarten and the years just beyond if we mean to build the habits of mind that will lead all students to deep understanding of text. What Is Close Reading? Essentially, close reading means reading to uncover layers of meaning that lead to deep comprehension.
Close, analytic reading stresses engaging with a text of sufficient complexity directly and examining meaning thoroughly and methodically, encouraging students to read and reread deliberately.
Directing student attention on the text itself empowers students to understand the central ideas and key supporting details. It also enables students to reflect on the meanings of individual words and sentences; the order in which sentences unfold; and the development of ideas over the course of the text, which ultimately leads students to arrive at an understanding of the text as a whole.
Why Close Reading Now? I wear a variety of professional hats—university professor, literacy consultant to districts, author of several books related to comprehension. To keep myself honest and humbleI spend a lot of time in classrooms watching kids and teachers at work.
For a long while, this approach looked ideal. What could be better than creating metacognitive readers? But the teaching of reading veered significantly off track when those personal connections also well represented on some high-stakes state assessments began to dominate the teaching and testing of comprehension, often leaving the text itself a distant memory.
And it got even crazier. Although well-intentioned, the shift to teaching reading as a set of thinking strategies too often left readers with the notion that the text was simply a launching point for their musings, images that popped into their heads, and random questions that, in the end, did little to enhance their understanding of the text itself.
We should turn to the text itself. You might identify these ideas: Notice that reader reflection is still integral to the process.
But close reading goes beyond that: I reread that passage. And I agree that close reading will likely produce deeper understanding. But how do I get these concepts off the page and into my elementary school classroom?
Here are three fruitful practices. The Common Core standards suggest several genres of short text, both literary and informational, that can work at the elementary level. Many kinds of traditional literature—folktales, legends, myths, fables, as well as short stories, poetry, and scenes from plays—enable and reward close reading.
For informational works, try short articles, biographies, personal narratives, and even some easier primary-source materials, such as Martin Luther King Jr.A thoroughly revised and updated edition of Thomas C. Foster's classic guide—a lively and entertaining introduction to literature and literary basics, including symbols, themes, and contexts—that shows you how to make your everyday reading experience more rewarding and enjoyable.
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Common Core State StandardS for engliSh language artS & literaCy in hiStory/SoCial StudieS, SCienCe, and teChniCal SubjeCtS appendix a | 2 reading. Online homework and grading tools for instructors and students that reinforce student learning through practice and instant feedback.
In How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler teaches us the four levels of reading to become a more effective reader. Learning how to read is more than just picking up a book and starting to read.