Are you and your students completely engrossed with the ‘new’ close reading strategy fad? Yes, it is what many teachers were already doing – rereading to find text evidence. But what I love about Close Reading is how specific it gets and gives the students concrete objectives for each read. There are so many different versions of close reading, a teacher can truly make it their own with keeping the best pieces.
One of the pieces of close reading I really focused on this past year was the types of questions being asked during each read and teaching my students how to identify those questions. By the end of the year, my students were able to read the questions of an article prior to reading the article, and they were able to tell me which read they would be able to answer that question on and why. This took a lot of work – but it was so worth it!
One of the ways I was able to do this was by teaching my students what each read was about, specifically starting with the first read. That first read is supposed to be the ‘big picture’. I’m not supposed to remember specific details of events. I might, but I’m not required. I need to know those big ideas – and with that I should be able to answer some big idea questions. In our classroom – here were those questions:
- What is the main idea?
- What is the author’s purpose of the text?
- What is the genre of the text?
- What is the theme? (if not nonfiction)
- What is the author’s perspective about _____?
#2 – Group It!
This easy idea can be done on scratch paper or post its. Using the same first read questions, ask one question at a time and give them about 1-2 minutes to answer. Then pull out a popsicle stick of a fun way to group the students. These fun ways can include: birthday month, tallest to shortest, youngest to oldest, etc. Pull out a popsicle stick or verbalize how you want them to be grouped. Group them quickly and then in their groups they go around sharing their answers for the question. They must then pick what they think is the strongest answer to be shared. Allow each group to share their answer and discuss. Go back to your seat for question #2 and repeat!
#3 – Reverse It!
This is a fun one! All you need for this is index cards and markers. You have a bit of prep work for this one but I promise it doesn’t take too much time. Prior to the first read, create index cards with the ANSWERS to all of the first read questions of your text. Write each answer in a different color. (ex: all my main idea answers are in blue) You’ll want to make multiple copies of each card so you have enough for everyone to have their own card. So when I did mine I made 5 of each answer card so altogether I had 25 cards. Before the first read, pass the cards out to the students and review with them what the ‘big picture’ first read questions are. Tell them that today you’re going to reverse the roles and that you’ve given then the answers to the first read questions – but they have to figure out which first read question they have been given. Complete your first read and then give the students time to write which question they think their index card answers – write it on the back of the card. Then have the students group themselves by color (technically it’s by question but they don’t know that!) Have them make sure everyone in their group has the same color then have them compare their answers – which technically is the question they just wrote. If someone in their group has a different question written down, odds are they are incorrect and need go go back to their seats to rethink – which gives you an opportunity to give some one on one help! Have each group share out and discuss!
#4 – Poster Time!
Gather up some small poster boards for this one – you can even reuse some that are used up on one side. After the first read, group the students into small groups (3-4) and give each group a poster board and a marker. Have them create 3 first read questions and write them with space in between on their board. When done, have them trade with another group. Now they must answer the questions created by that group and justifying their answer! Trade back and grade – then group back together and share out!
#5 – Dice it Up!
This idea is simple and ready to go – just add dice! Same first read questions, but put the students into partners and have them roll to see which question they get to answer first. OR even better and if you want to do more whole group – create your own first read dice by taping index cards to each side of a square tissue box and rolling it as a class and recording your answer! (Freebie included in the download below!)