Using Close Reading in the Classroom

I have loved using my friend, Fifth in the Middle's, Close Reads in my classroom!  Close Reading has become a hot topic in the last year or so across all areas of literacy.  Last spring I read a fantastic book by Chris Lehman and Kathleen Roberts called
Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts--and Life

which gave me a great overview for the foundation of the topic.  I was interesed, and I was passionate about the idea of getting my kids to look at a text with more depth.  I was NOT looking forward to creating text to do this.  I tried finding text, but nothing kept the interest of my students, and with a move looming in my future, I did not have the time to create.  Lucky for me, I didn't need to. My friend Diane, genious that she is had started creating Close Read texts that were related to monthly topics.  These my friends, are fabulous!  She saved my sanity when I began using these!  I love her format because she creates text that I can use in my interactive notebook.  I'm a fan of the clean page with a simple border, and straightforward directions and prompts.

When I have my students use her close reads we do a cold read first, annotating using symbols connections that we are making with the text.  All of thse annotations occur within the border of the text created.  After discussion, we moved into the second and third reads, where there is a very specific purpose and task set for for us.  In our interactive notebooks, we answer questions and annotate for these reads on the OUTSIDE of the boarder.  This works well for me because I can see how students are digging deeper into the text.  We highlight and write as we discuss deeper meaning, and connections.

This week in celebration of her milestone on TpT, Diane has a limited time freebie of her Close Reads on S'mores. You can grab it {HERE}.  My class in particular LOVED this topic.  We read this one in the early September as I was still getting used to moving to Alabama.  They thought it was hysterical how excited I got about s'mores, and meanwhile, I'm thinking.. hello sixth graders.. campfires...chocolate, marshmallows... what's NOT to love about s'mores!  As I watched them complete the cold read, I saw a lot of wrinkled foreheads, and students who began to glance nervously at each other.  ut oh... I thought, are these too difficult?  I had only been in class a few weeks with them but I thought they could handle it.  I mean Diane differentiated them and gave me 3 levels to work with.  Some of them began to annotate furiously on the page, and I relaxed a little, but was curious when it came to discussion.  My students finished, and I had to bust right in and ask them why their brows were wrinkled in confusion?  Well my friends, here was this YANKEES first lesson in being a Southerner... you do not have campfires when it is 85 degrees outside in the summer!  They could not understand the context of WHY I would sit around a campfire in the summer!  I laughed so hard to think that s'mores are a WINTER food down here! Campfires are a WINTER activity in Alabama!  It was a great learning experience for the whole class, and we would not have had that bonding moment without Diane's fabulous work!
Needless to say, I promised them s'mores in class the next day, but fooled them in the process.  I gave them these:

We had been working on the distributive property in math, and I couldn't resist having them practice combining like terms.   Of course, after they finished moaning and groaning, I did give them real s'mores to eat, but I loved the joke, and they learned that it's ok to joke around a little in my classroom.

If you are interested in Close Reads for your classroom, I would recommend Fifth in the Middle's Bundle.  It is your best bargain.  You can go {HERE} to check it out.  Also, if you are teaching Combining Like Terms and need something to make it more interactive with expressions, you can go {HERE} and pick up my Combining Like Terms interactive game.  You can gran it at up to 28% off using the TpT code THANKYOU May 5th and 6th!

1 comment

  1. Do check out the close reading portfolio from SNAP Learning.


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