Close Readers Do These Things


It's no secret that there are a lot of anchor charts in EL. Like, A LOT. We need to create them judiciously so that we don't overload students (or the walls). But the "Close Readers Do These Things" anchor chart is an important one that I'd make and keep up all year long. 

Here's why.

First, the contents of the anchor chart are a set of 8 close reading strategies that are fairly brief, simple, and to the point. They are:

  • Read the text slowly, at least twice.
  • Get the gist of what the text is about.
  • Circle words you don't know
  • Determine the meanings of words you don't know by:
    • Using affixes and roots for clues.
    • Reading around the word (using context)
    • Using reference materials 
  • Reread, annotate, and underline key vocabulary.
  • Use the text to answer questions.
  • Gather evidence from the text.
  • Talk with each other about what you think it means.
  • Read again to summarize or answer basic questions.

Second, these are strategies that go hand-in-hand with the close reading lessons, which is one of our 4 key instructional practices. The whole purpose of reading closely together is for students to eventually be able to do that level of work independently, and using this anchor chart gives students a scaffold to turn to as you release that responsibility to them.

But third, and most importantly, every single one of these strategies is solidly research-based. While there are no studies showing that teaching discrete comprehension skills leads to better comprehension, there is a substantial body of research that supports teaching reading strategies. And inherent in the list on this anchor chart are strategies that we know work: monitoring comprehension, summarizing, asking questions of the text, and rereading to answer them. Students have to actively think about the ideas in a text if they are going to understand them, and this anchor chart describes a set of actions that can help readers do that. 

Which is, after all, the point.

Also, a couple of things to keep in mind.

If you've got students who are struggling significantly, know that you may need to support their decoding and fluency before and as they close read, and these aren't called out on the chart. Intentional, targeted vocabulary instruction, especially if the text is unfamiliar or has new content, is always a good idea, too.

Speaking of text, there's no point in putting text in front of our kids and teaching them to read it closely ... when they already can. You can't closely read a text that isn't appropriately complex. If the text isn't complex enough, there's simply not enough there to dig into, and we never want to encourage students to use strategies when they aren't needed; it just ends up being something kids "do" with a text rather than working to deeply understand it. Ultimately, we want to make sure that our teaching is always stretching our students to do a bit more than they could when they walked in our doors that morning, and that calls for texts that are going to challenge them.

So, this anchor chart? It's one to keep for sure. 

Here's to simply teaching well,

No comments

Post a Comment