It’s no surprise that some of the most useful reading skills are also some of the most difficult for kids to master. Skills like making inferences, characterization, and making use of text structures take practice. They require close reading. Kids gradually become proficient at these deeper thinking skills by putting them to use. One good way to practice is by starting with short practice texts, such as on task cards, and then putting the skills to use on longer texts such as short stories, novels, and non-fiction articles. This involves plenty of close reading.
Task cards are a great place to start because they are so versatile. They can be used in a variety of ways, and kids can complete more or less cards according to their individual needs. Also, specific cards can always be selected to review a skill needed by one kid or a small group. Here are some task cards from my Teachers Pay Teachers store that address these more complex reading skills. Click on any of the images to see a preview and get all the details.
UPDATE: I’ve added more task card sets that address thinking skills including more story elements (Theme is one of the new sets) and text structures. Here are some images. Click on either of the images to get the details.
Close reading really requires kids to think, and it also requires them to focus. Going through a full close reading lesson step by step shows students how to tackle a text in depth. Close reading works great with a non-fiction text that relates to a topic students are studying in one of their content-area classes.
Here are two of the resources in my store specifically designed to teach close reading (with all the steps) – with more to come for back-to-school. Both of these are about elections, and the first one is a FREEBIE.
Finally, novel studies are a great way for students to put the thinking skills that they are acquiring to good use. Novel study questions and assignments that focus on making inferences, characterization, and finding clues in the text require students to think and interact with the reading, not just recall information or answer from their own ideas. By supporting their answers with details or quotes from the text, students can see for themselves, and prove to their teacher, that their answers are correct.
In my store you’ll find novel studies for lots of classic middle grades novel including these three: The Cay, Number the Stars, and CRASH. Each one requires the students to read closely to answer text-based questions. (More novel studies to come.)
There is also a FREEBIE for each of these novel studies:
Linked with Comprehension Connection for the Summer Blog Party and with Teaching Blog Addict for Freebie FRiday: