Is it that time of year when you can finally settle in a spend the time to do some close reading with your kids? Time to choose a few articles that will appeal to the kids, and really dig in – show kids how much they can actually get out a piece of reading if they take it step by step?
You might think that you need long, complex readings for this endeavor, but actually a short article will work great here, and it’s definitely more kid-friendly in this situation – since the students will be reading the passage more than once! The article shown here is just one full page long, but it’s plenty for doing a full three readings to tackle all of the close reading steps.
I like to keep each activity fairly short for the same reason – short, but really to the point! My usual set up includes a few text-based questions plus a graphic organizer to use after each of the first two readings, and a writing prompt to use after the third. In this image, you can see the pages for one article.
The questions and graphic organizer for the first reading focus on the main idea and details in the article. I try to use text based questions that will sometimes require students to search through the article carefully to find their answer and at other times require them to use the text to verify that the answer they remembered is actually correct.
The questions and organizers for the second reading are about text structures and vocabulary. One thing I sometimes do here is to write articles with a specific text structure in mind. At other times, I might write text structure questions that apply to a specific paragraph or section of the article. For vocabulary, I tackle just a few words from the article, usually about three.
The questions and prompt for the third reading are about the article as a whole and integrating it with what the student already know. A writing prompt is my choice for this third follow-up activity – simple, but after all of the detailed work for the first two readings, I think kids enjoy expressing their own ideas a little bit more after the final one. Also, writing prompts are a great way to incorporate the kids’ prior knowledge and their opinions with what they have just read.
Using this set-up, students can really focus on the steps of close reading while not getting overwhelmed by dealing with a big text. With practice, they will learn to apply the skills they learn here to those longer informational texts (and novels!) and even though they may not suspect that this is what we are aiming for, they will gradually become more insightful readers!
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