You want to teach close reading, but you’re stuck on what to do after you introduce the text passage. Let’s add some fun close read activities to extend the life of your lessons.
When you’re teaching close reading, vocabulary and key text components like reading comprehension skills are the most important things to focus on. Your goal for your close read lesson is to build vocabulary development and understanding of text structure and meaning.
Pretty wordy, right? What on earth does that mean? Essentially you’re wanting your students to learn new words and phrases as well as understanding what the topic of the passage is about.
Close Reading And Comprehension
Before we get to the close read activities, we’re going to talk about choosing the right passages for your students. It is vitally important to choose the right passages so you’re able to get the most out of your lessons all week.
Look for close reading passages that are not too short. If they’re super short, you’ll run out of things to teach. On the other hand, you’re not going to want a long passage either. Passages longer than a page would cause overwhelm with your students and they’re daydreaming about recess. But if you’re wanting to go one way or the other, lean toward a longer passage. Here’s why.
Close Reading Isn’t Independent Reading
Close reading is meant to be difficult because you are teaching your students to navigate through new and unfamiliar text. If you have a passage on making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and they already know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then what are you teaching them? This time together with your students during close reading should never be a review of what they already know.
Instead, you’re looking at diving much deeper into your reading passages with your students. Here’s an analogy for you. I’m a scuba diver, but my husband is not. When I snorkel with him, he sees some of the magnificent ocean creatures that I see when I’m scuba diving, but they aren’t as plentiful or big. I wish he could see all the details and colors that I see when I’m underwater.
It’s the same thing with close reading. When you’re teaching close reading, you’re teaching your students to look at the details and the text structure in depth. Your students will learn more than just what they see at the surface. Put another way, you’ll be asking “Why” and “How” questions, as opposed to “What” questions.
You’re also teaching your kiddos that it is important to focus this closely on a reading passage. This helps your students with their reading in so many ways:
- This promotes responsibility when they are reading.
- It gives them confidence to read harder passages.
- Your students reading stamina will improve.
- Independent reading gets easier for students who know how to attack harder passages.
Comprehension Close Read Activities
So what close read activities can you do to extend the life of your text passages? I have a few helpful tips for you.
Look at the text structure or reading comprehension skill in your passage. What do you notice right away? Using your gut instinct is the best way to go because you know your students. Do you see anything they’ll struggle with immediately? Do you see something you’re currently working on in your classroom that you can piggy back on?
Pull out a reading skill that you see. If there’s something within the passage to compare and contrast, make a Venn Diagram. If it’s a fictional piece, pull out story elements. Inference and drawing conclusions are great ways to build comprehension skills with your close reading activities.
Use Graphic Organizers
Use graphic organizers! Graphic organizers are a great way to organize the topics or noteworthy information from your passages. Graphic organizers can be as simple as a piece of scratch paper folded into fourths for your story elements like we discussed above, or a graphic organizer with three train cars for the beginning, middle, and end.
Chances are, you might have a template or two of a graphic organizer. Something fun your students might like is to take the topic of the passage and make a graphic organizer for it. If your close reading passage is all about how to plant seeds, draw a large flower with petals on a piece of paper. It doesn’t have to be perfect but head to your school’s art teacher if you’re self-conscious about your drawing. I bet a fun-size Snickers bar will be good payment for a quick flower with some petals.
Now, you can write the main idea in the middle of the flower, and use the petals to write the steps in order for planting a seed.
Practice Main Idea For Every Close Read Activity
A note about main idea and supporting details. I consider this skill a given when you’re working on reading comprehension during your close read activities. Identifying the main idea is something that students struggle with when they’re reading harder passages. It comes easy for us because we’ve had years of practice in the classroom. You’re always going to want to help your students identify the main idea and supporting details.
This can be as simple as asking your student what the main idea and supporting details are. Or, make a graphic organizer web with your students. The main idea goes in the middle, with the supporting details on the outside of the web.
Working With A Partner
Make sure that you’re leading your students to answer your “why” and “how” questions instead of telling them the answers. Any activity that I do with my students during close reading is 9 times out of ten done with partners. Because I want my students to learn the “why” and “how” from each other, not just from me.
The benefits of working with a partner are HUGE. It leads to more cooperation between your students. It also gives your kiddos the opportunity to practice listening skills.
Fun Close Read Activities
Make it fun! Here’s your opportunity to add some fun back into your classroom. Have your students make comic strips or posters. Bring out the scissors and glue for a craft that is related to the topic. Close read activities for comprehension will be much more impactful for your students if they’re up and moving around, so learning a new song or dance would even work! Use what the reading passage has and get creative!
If you’re looking for more close reading tips, make sure to read the other blogs in Teaching Firsties blog series.
This FREE guide will teach you the close reading strategies that will make a close read lesson successful.
With this free guide, you’ll know what to do to keep your kiddos engaged all week.
You will learn what supplies and materials you need for a successful close reading lesson. You’ll learn what to do on each day during your week of close reading. This was another struggle for me.
I read through the text passage with my students, NOW WHAT?
You’ll have vocabulary ideas to boost your students’ mastery of words and phrases, imagine how great it would be to have time for vocabulary instruction! I’ll show you how it works!
Comprehension is hard for younger readers. They learn to decode words and now they have to understand what everything together means too?
With how much we have to teach in a week, the idea of “Fun Fridays” went out the window years ago. At least it did for me. I didn’t have time to do the fun crafts and activities that first-graders love and frankly deserve to do! I always thought this was so sad, and I wanted to bring it back somehow. So I devoted the last day of close reading to a fun extension activity about the topic of our close reading passage. I’ll show you how to find time for a fun activity, where your students are still learning in the FREE guide for close reading!
I also added the best classroom management tips I used during our close reading week, so you can actually teach your students, rather than correcting unwanted behavior or trying to keep your kiddos attention.
And best of all? I’ve added two close reading passages WITH lesson plans to get you started.
When you download the FREE Guide For Teaching Close Reading To Younger Readers, you’ll learn:
- How to teach your students to annotate.
- Which supplies you need and which ones you don’t!
- What you need to know about the best reading passages for close reading.
- What to teach on each day of a close reading week.
- How to improve your student’s vocabulary with close reading.
- Techniques to improve your student’s reading comprehension skills.
- Extension activities that take the topic of your close reading passage further.
- Classroom management during close reading, including partner activities and effective transitions.
You’ll also get two close reading text passages with TWO WEEKS of lesson plans!