How Can First Graders Analyze Close Reading Text With A Partner

close reading text

You’ve been doing a lot of virtual learning. Your students have been staring at their devices for awhile now. Have you noticed that your kiddos are having a hard time communicating with each other? Especially if you’d like to try any kind of cooperative learning. It’s like you’re starting from scratch. In this blog, I’m going to show you how to take a close reading text and give it to your students to analyze with a partner.

Analyzing Close Reading Text With Partners

close reading text

We’ve talked about how beneficial teaching close reading strategies is for your elementary school classroom. Let’s make it socially beneficial too by adding in partner activities. I’m going to give you some tips to think about when you’re teaching close reading with partners.

You can choose when you’d like to have your kids partner up throughout the week. It could be when you’re coming up with new vocabulary sentences for the tricky words you found, or it can be at the end of the week when you’re writing about what you learned. You know your kids best, so choose partner time when you know your students will benefit, and choose independent working time when you know that a partner activity might be a little too much.

Teach Expectations First

close reading text

Teach your expectations just like you would teach a subject matter. And then practice. Often.

A lot goes into this: You’ll need to teach your students 

  • How do your students find a partner? 
  • Where do they sit. 
  • How should they take turns getting supplies? 
  • Who talks first?
  • What do they do when you’re done with your activity?

And all of that is BEFORE you even get started on WHAT your students will be doing with their partners!

Close Reading Guide

I have a free close reading guide available for which will help you think through these partner questions.

There is a space where you can take notes for your routines when you’re assigning and teaching your partners to analyze their close reading text. I highly recommend downloading it HERE. Then take a moment and think through what the idea partner activity would look like and how it would flow.

close reading text

Teaching Close Reading Expectations Step By Step

Once you have an idea of what you’d like your students to do during partner work, then break it into parts and teach a little at a time.

close read examples 2

Do not expect your students to be able to have the perfect partner activity on the first day. Instead, teach very small chunks each time. 

Start with showing your students HOW to find their partner. Then practice. And that’s it. When they’re good at it, then add where they’ll sit. You’ll want to practice this until you’re sick of practicing it, but your students will need it. You’ll be so thankful later on in the year that you took this time now.

And don’t forget to revisit your expectations and practice. I’d rather practice and remember that my students are 6 years old and have a lot to put in their little brains this year, rather than get frustrated that they aren’t doing it the way I taught them once in September.

Who Talks About Their Close Reading Text First?

close reading text

One of the things that you’ll definitely need to practice is deciding who goes first. 

I’m a big fan of having my students decide a lot of things on their own, but in this case (and to avoid conflict), I decide for them. I just do. I used to teach them to play rock paper scissors to decide, but then I found out that they would just keep playing rock paper scissors the whole time.

Toward the end of the year, you can let them try to decide, but for now, give them directions.

I find this helpful in two ways:

  • It actually takes the pressure off of your students to decide, especially if you have two students together who both like to be first.
  • And the flow of our discussion isn’t interrupted by a million games of rock paper scissors.

Partner Pairs

I love using cute pairs of items to match my students together. You can assign students as peanut butter kiddos, and another set is jelly kiddos. A peanut butter student finds the jelly student and find a place to sit.

Then, when I ask my question, I’ll say, “Peanut butter friends, can you tell your jelly friend why it is important that we have community helpers?”

close reading text

I’ll give them a moment to do so, then I’ll say, “cheese

friends, can you tell your peanut butter friends what would happen if we don’t have community helpers?”

You can also use cookies and milk partners, or eggs and bacon partners. It doesn’t even have to be food, I think I am just always hungry, so I chose food as a theme.

Keeping Students Accountable For Listening To Their Partners

Another thing to teach your students is to listen to each other. This isn’t going to happen in just one close reading lesson, but it is possible over time with practice.

My favorite way to keep my students accountable for listening to each other is to ask them what their partner thought about the reading passage. They know I’m going to do this, so they know they need to listen.

close reading text

You can have a conversation with your class or quick jot down their thoughts on a chart paper. Start by asking, “Does anyone want to share what their partner thought?” It works like a charm.

Have Sentence Starters Ready To Go

close reading text

One of the most difficult things for students is figuring out what to talk about. They’ll either visit and talk about whatever is on their mind at that moment, or they’ll awkwardly sit with their partner and not say anything.

I’ve seen both of these situations happen far too often, and it’s so hard to watch!


Take the pressure off what to talk about and have questions and sentence starters available ahead of time.

Year Long Passages for Close Reading

Save time and money by purchasing this bundle of YEAR-LONG PASSAGES FOR CLOSE READING! These fun and engaging passages and activities have everything your students need to practice independent reading and comprehension. You can prep all of your reading lessons or centers for the whole year now and save time and money! 

Examples Of Sentence Starters

If you’re wanting your students to discuss their new vocabulary words, you can give them a way to begin their sentences. If you’re reading a passage with the word “community”, you can instruct your students to begin their sentences with “A community is…” 

That way you’re not getting one word answers.


close reading text

Another good idea is to ask “how” and “why” questions. You might ask your students, “Why is it important for use to have community helpers?”

This is a good chance for you to teach your students to rephrase the question into their answer, which is a HUGE skill to learn, both in communicating and in writing. Teach them to respond with “It is important to have community helpers because…” 

The biggest take away is that you’re going to need to give your students a lot of direction on how to discuss close reading topics with each other.

How Much Time Should Your Partners Spend On Close Reading?

close reading text

eep in mind to keep your discussion time short with your students. Like a minute maximum, especially at the beginning of the year. Because you know what will happen if they run out of things to discuss about the close reading text… cue the talking. 

Final Thoughts On Close Reading With Partners

Does this seem like something your students would enjoy? After I practiced this in my classroom for a few weeks, I noticed that my students who didn’t get along well had less issues with each other. Not to say that they were best friends, but they knew my expectations were to communicate with each other.

Make sure to practice and reinforce your expectations when your students are working together during close reading. And if this works for you, you can use these same strategies for other lessons in your classroom. 

Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.


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