Falling In Love With Close Reading: A Book Study- Chapter 4

So, on to Chapter 4- If You Build It: A Study of Structure

 The author starts off this chapter explaining that when we read closely for text structure, "we begin to see the underpinnings of the author's intentions...what the author values."  It can help us to think about the choices that an author makes and helps us to realize that text structure reveals a lot about what the author wants the readers to know.

They break reading closely for structure into the same 3 steps:
1.  Read through a lens.
Describe the organization of a text and the purpose of that organization.
2.  Use lenses to find patterns.
How are parts similar/different?  What purpose do they serve?
3.  Use the patterns to develop a new understanding of the text.
About characters or whole text.

I created a little "cheat sheet" of the Planning Support to think about when you're close reading for structure (for narrative and informational texts).  Click the picture below to download it.

Elementary Antics: Close Reading for structure planning sheet from Falling in Love with Close Reading

In narratives there are a few main ways to talk about text structure: talking about genre (poem, editorial, news report), talking about the locations of parts within the text (second subsection, stanza, change in scene, using the parts of a plot mountain), and talking about techniques that authors using when structuring a text (character description, dialogue, setting, comparison).

You will typically just choose one of these areas to dig into during your lesson with the hope that, eventually, students will be able to use multiple lenses at the same time.  First you will describe what you see and then describe its purpose or function.  The author suggests starting with a lesson using video games- describing the organization of the game and the purpose of that organization.  (You can gather a few synopsis online or show some clips that can easily be found online.)

The sample lesson that was discussed was from the book The Tale of Two Cities and done at the high school level.  One strategy that I liked that they discussed using during close reading was for students to jot the description that they are seeing in the text on the left side of the page and the purpose for that part on the right.  This really helps students to to read looking for parts and trying to see where the author moves from one technique to the next and think about exactly what that part is and what purpose it's serving.  I do think that elementary kiddos could do this too.

Obviously, as I was reading I was thinking about how this could be done at the elementary level.  I do think it would be really important to make sure that students had a really clear understanding of all the techniques that are suggested, so lessons would definitely need to be done on those techniques as well as story structure in general and genre-specific vocabulary before I feel like I could delve deeply into close reading with structure.  In fact, some of the extra support lessons suggested were to teach students to think about the sequence of events as another lens to start.

I've got a fun and easy to use Graphic Organizers Pack (CC aligned) that I'm definitely planning on incorporating into close reading and other activities this year.  Check it out by clicking the picture below.
Reading Literature Graphic Organizers- all Common Core aligned

So, I'm still wondering- What fiction/non-fiction texts or articles have you used effectively when teaching close reading? Does a book come to mind for reading closely about structure?

Enter to win your own copy of Falling in Love with Close Reading using the Giveaway Tools below!
Then, check out what the other bloggers thought of Chapter 4.  I know there's some other freebies to go along with what we learned that you can use in your classroom from some of them! :) 


Florida Teacher Blog Hop {Plus a FREEBIE and a GIVEAWAY}

Welcome to the Sunshine State! Enjoy yourself as you take a tour around our wonderful {and large!} state! Grab some freebies along the way, and be sure to enter to win our Bundles of Sunshine!

I have almost always lived in Northeast Florida (except for my time in Tallahassee at FSU!). A couple of things I love about Jacksonville is that it's by the beach and we've got the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Say what you will, but I'm a football fan and an avid Jags fan (no matter what)! 

I was lucky enough to live only a block or two from the beach during most of early twenties when I first started teaching.  I loved it!  So nice to be able to take walks on the beach whenever I felt like it, plus I loved how everything was so close- stores, restaurants, etc. and there was always fun stuff going on.  After I got married, we decided to move inland a little ways so we could actually afford a nice house.  It's great, but I do miss those easy living beach days. 

Jacksonville Beach Sea Walk Pavilion
I'm sure you've heard about our new Jaguar stadium upgrades too- pools, cabanas, and the largest video boards in the world (in each end zone)- oh my!  Here's what Jags fans have to look forward to- unveiling July 26th!  I'm excited for this season even if we are the underdogs at every game.

One of my favorite Jacksonville views is driving into downtown at night- the view is so pretty.  They jazzed up all the bridges with lights back when we hosted the Super Bowl.

Downtown Jax at night.
Check out these other gorgeous Jacksonville pics!

Now that you got a little intro into Jacksonville, we have freebies for you to enjoy! Stop by each of our blogs for an activity or idea to use in your classroom. To grab my freebie just click the image below!


This freebie is so convenient when teaching the reading comprehension strategies!  I also like to use them in my kiddos interactive journals for the teacher side.  (I just shrink it when copying so it will fit.)

I also have several themed posters in my TPT store to match your classroom decor including:

The Florida teachers below have two fantastic giveaways for you! You can enter once from each one of our pages. All you have to do is follow my blog! Hop around to all the blogs listed below, and be sure to follow them to get more entries. The more entries you have, the more likely you are to win! Each pack also includes a Starbucks gift card (because, well, a teacher's gotta have a coffee!).

Come find out more about the beautiful state of Florida by reading about these other sweet teachers!


Falling in Love with Close Reading: A Book Study- Chapter 2

So, on to Chapter 2- The Essence of Understanding: A Study of Text Evidence.

 The author starts off this chapter explaining that in reading we often would tell students take an idea from your book and then find the evidence or the detail to support your thinking.  The problem was, not that kids couldn't find the evidence, but that their ideas were too simple- too removed from the text. They needed help constructing the ideas in the first place!  Usually kids have an idea, then go find evidence.  But, we need to flip it around and teach them to gather evidence, then develop an idea.  A HA MOMENT people- Yes!  That's so true.

They break reading closely for text evidence down into 3 steps:
1.  Read through a lens.
Choose specific details to gather as evidence/data.  Examples: what characters say/do/think, relationships, setting descriptions, time period, etc.
2.  Use lenses to find patterns.
Which details fit together?  How do they fit together?
3.  Use the patterns to develop a new understanding of the text.
Look at patterns to think about: character's/people's- feelings, traits, or relationships. On a whole text level use patterns to think about themes or lessons.

So, what might this look like in the classroom?

Well, the author gives specific clear examples on what this process looks like in the classroom using examples from middle/high school age text.  Obviously this can be done with our elementary kiddos too- it’s all about differentiation.  He also suggests doing this process using popular songs to get things started. (Reminds me a bit of Comprehension Connections.) This is just a quick run down of the process:

 #1- Choose the text.  You’ll want to make sure it provides a rich opportunity to do close reading work towards your instructional goal.  When it comes time for your lesson, make sure you spend a little time introducing the ritual of close reading to your class and why you’re doing this.  

#2- Make a clear instructional goal. Then communicate it to your students.  This is your lens. (Ex: “One reason to read a text closely is to help us think more powerfully about our characters, purposefully gathering details about them and then reflecting on what the evidence reveals…Today we are going to focus specifically on what close reading for text evidence might reveal about the characters in the book. ”) 

#3- Read through your lenses and gather/write evidence and details about it.  Choose one lens to focus on as this will help you decide what evidence and details to pull out of the story.  Make a list of the evidence.

#4- Analyze the details by looking for patterns.  Look at your list of evidence and details and ask yourself, “Which details fit together?” and “How do they fit together?”  You can use color coding or circling, underlining, etc.  to help you group together like details to find patterns.

#5- Use the patterns to develop new ideas about the text.  The author states, “It’s essential that students develop new ideas about the text, not just collect details.”  This is the hard part!  It’s where the deep thinking is happening.  This is truly SYNTHESIZING in every aspect. You can use prompts to help get your kids started on revising their ideas.  (Click here for an awesome text evidence prompts freebie from Lessons Learned!)

#6- Let students practice these close reading skills independently in their own books.  After all, we only get good at the things we do.

Basically, the process is the same when reading non-fiction text only here we need to teach students to make sense of any confusing parts.  Non-fiction can be more difficult.  Make sure you keep your focus on teaching kids the steps and skills of close reading, not just on having them get things correct on the first try.  In non-fiction especially, even if students aren’t developing a totally correct idea, the work they do reading with lenses and finding patterns will usually lead them to a “more closely aligned idea than their first reading did.”  These skills also work in real life- don’t give up when it’s confusing, do more with it!

The chapter ends with the author giving more ideas on what to do to provide extra support for students that aren’t quite getting it and extensions for those high flyers.  He also gives some specific ways in which close reading can relate to our own lives by looking at specific details in our lives and developing ideas.

So, here’s my questions for you all- What fiction/non-fiction texts or articles have you used effectively when teaching close reading?

Enter to win your own copy of Falling in Love with Close Reading using the Giveaway Tools below!
Then, check out what the other bloggers thought of Chapter 2.  I know there's some freebies to go along with what we learned that you can use in your classroom from some of them! :) 


Falling In Love with Close Reading: A Book Study- Chapter 1


Well, it's summer, the perfect time for a book study- right!?  Seriously though, it's like the only time I really have to be able to do a book study.  That's why I was excited to jump into Falling in Love with Close Reading!  Last year, I taught 2nd grade and we didn't delve very deeply into Close reading.  This year, in 3rd grade, I'm ready to learn all about it and be ready to use this in my classroom starting this Fall.

In chapter one, Close Reading, A Love Story, the author examines what close reading is, how it's changed through the years, and how it can relate to our lives.  I love how he starts by comparing a love for reading with a love for, well, anything really.  Saying that when you love someone or something you return to it repeatedly, gaze at it for hours, consider each angle, each word, and think about it's meaning.  This is exactly what you can do with close reading!  Really this is a love of reading- teaching readers to look at texts closely and give them an opportunity to "extend a love affair with reading."

What is Close Reading?
According to the authors, Close Reading is an interaction between the reader and a text, making careful observations of a text and then interpreting those observations, and it involves rereading- usually a short section of a text- to help the reader to carry new ideas to the whole text.

One thing that the author states that I loved is, "Powerful literacy strategies tend to be powerful life strategies as well."  I feel this is so true and I love that I will be learning more ways to teach kids to LOVE reading and how all this stuff we teach IS really something they can use in their lives! 

What is powerful Close Reading instruction? 
The authors wanted to find and design a vision for close reading that matched the academic needs and demands of our students (and standards) and the engagement needs of our students.  Close reading we should teach students to do, rather than something that we do to them.   The instruction should lead to students' own thoughtful reading.

Here is the list that the authors give for powerful close reading instruction
  • must raise engagement and joy of reading
  • must lead to student independence, not dependence on teacher's prompting
  • must be one piece of your reading instruction, not the only part
  • must allow time for students to read for extended periods and across many pages of text, not interrupt time spent reading with activities
  • must be repeated across time and involve lots of opportunities for practice, not be a one-time, off-the-checklist activity.
  • must be designed in response to your student's strengths and needs, not just designed to fit for a specific book or to fit in in a certain scope and sequence
What are we currently doing in our close reading instruction?
Well, I'm currently not doing any close reading instruction. :(  I'm so so excited to continue reading this book so that I can jump into this early in the year with my third graders.  In the upcoming chapters we will be finding out how to plan instruction that will support the development of close reading practices.  I love that we will see a focus on students talking, problem solving, and developing ideas together.  There will be lessons for a variety of contexts: texts, media, and life, lessons for fundamental close reading skills to more complex, extensions to support differentiation, and samples of grade-level lessons, charts, and student work from classrooms around the world.  Plus, book and media suggestions and connections to the Common Core Standards.

Dianna, from Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching, set up an awesome giveaway for you to win your own copy of Falling in Love with Close Reading and a $10 TpT Gift Card!  Enter using the Giveaway Tools below.  Then, hop around to the other blogs in the book study to get their perspective on Chapter 1. :)

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