Top 3 Strategies For Close Reading And Classroom Management

strategies for close reading

Teaching strategies for close reading can be difficult when you teach elementary school. Some of the concepts go waaaay above your student’s heads. And we know what happens in a first grade classroom when your kiddos start to tune out. Having classroom management strategies in place before you teach close reading will be very helpful. That way you are proactively preventing off-task behavior.

Classroom Management And Close Reading Strategies

strategies for close reading

Close reading is difficult enough to teach without off-task behavior or daydreaming. Of course as elementary teachers, we always have to be two steps ahead in our classrooms, but during close reading, our classroom management strategies just need to be tweaked a little bit. 

Many of these close reading strategies for classroom management can be utilized during any time of the day.

We definitely need to pull out our best techniques for classroom management during close reading. There are a lot of components, and we want to make sure that our students know your routine so there are less interruptions.

Here are three strategies for classroom management that will help your close reading lessons run smoothly.

Building Hype For Close Reading

strategies for close reading

And this is the BIGGEST thing that you can do to make sure your students are excited about their reading passages and lessons. If you show excitement for the next close reading lesson, they’re going to follow along.

How Do I Build Hype For Close Reading?

Here’s how to build hype during close reading.

Make it seem like this is the coolest thing they’ll do in their grade this year. I was pretty close with a kindergarten teacher down the hall, so I used this to my advantage. “You know, I was talking to Ms. Strom at lunch and she said that her kindergarten students were so jealous that you can do close reading lessons”

strategies for close reading

Treat your lessons like you’re unlocking a secret. If you tell your kiddos that the author does NOT want to just tell you the answers, we have to figure them out. It makes it more like a challenge, or better yet, a game for your students to play rather than a hard task to do.

Using Student Proximity

You’ve probably heard of student proximity. When you’re introducing a close reading passage or leading a discussion on new word from the text, get up and walk around. If you have particularly talkative students, stand right by them.

strategies for close reading

If you need to place a hand on their upper back while still teaching, do that without saying a word. Make sure you have a student who isn’t going to be uncomfortable with you touching them. You never want to have an uncomfortable experience with a student. If there is a child in your classroom that does not want to be touched, then you can place your hand on their desks, you can point to their passages to show them which part you’re on, or you can come up with a signal ahead of time.

The point of this is to make sure that it’s not drawing attention to the student and it’s not interrupting your lesson. 

You’re doing both by not speaking to this child, but you’re still offering proximity to them, all while making sure you’re showing them respect by either gently touching their shoulder or their upper back or their desk if you know they’ll be uncomfortable.

Vary Your Voice Pattern When You're Speaking

I’ve learned to vary my voice patterns while teaching, and here’s why you should give it a try.

The more you vary your voice, the more interesting you will be.

I’m a huge Dateline fan. I could listen to Keith Morrison narrate these horrid stories all day long. Here are these terrible stories of true crime, but the way his voice has inflection just sucks me into his story telling.

The more you practice being a story teller in your classroom, the more interested your students will be.

strategies for close reading


Try talking softly. You’ll find your students will lean in to listen more. But then during an important part, get really

excited and show your students your enthusiasm. Think Oscar award winning performance.

Speaking like a storyteller, standing near your students who are off-task, and letting your students know that they’re big-shots are three easy and effective ways to build hype for your close reading passages. 

And that hype means they’ll be motivated to participate with you.

Teach And Practice Expectations First

strategies for close reading

There are a lot of components to a close reading lesson. You’ll want your students to concentrate and pay attention while you’re introducing your passages. Then, they’ll be doing partner work. But you want them to stay on task. 

Sometimes they’ll be getting materials. And if they get out clipboards and dry erase boards, you’ll want them to return them to the right spot. 

You’ll also want your students to annotate on their text, and you’d like to make it more fun – so maybe you’ll let them use gel pens or markers.

But you also don’t want a mess. 

And you will have your students up and moving around, but you also need to bring their attention back to you. It’s a lot.

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! 

Watch this video for more Strategies for Close Reading

Close Reading Guide

In the close reading guide that you can download, there is a place for classroom management notes. I found that if I identified problem areas ahead of time, I’d have less off-task behavior because I was proactive. When you download the guide, you’ll see how to do that.

close reading text

Close Reading Expectations

strategies for close reading

Look at each close reading lesson you’d like to teach, step-by-step.

Then ask yourself these two questions:

  • What would I like my students to do?
  • Do I see any problems that might occur?

Let’s look at the first question. 

What would you like your students to do? Are they getting clipboards today? Are they working with a partner? What should they do if they need to hear the directions again?

Teaching Close Reading Expectations

How will you teach your students to do each of these things?

Because techniques for classroom management should be taught. If you don’t remember anything else, try to remember this: Classroom Management strategies are best if you teach them just like you would teach any academic subject matter.

strategies for close reading

These are the things that I would suggest you start with:

  • How to get materials
  • How to find a partner
  • Transitions And Signals

Identifying these things ahead of time, teaching them proactively… and practicing them when you see your students are starting to lose focus will help your close reading lessons run really well.

So we’ve talked about building hype for your close reading lessons, and we’ve discussed teaching your expectations like you would any other lesson. Let’s talk about our last tip for classroom management and close reading.

Vary Your Close Reading Activities

strategies for close reading

You’ll want to make sure you mix things up so it’s not stale. You could plan the best lesson of your career, but if you’re teaching the same things each day, and they repeat week after week, your students will get pretty tired of it.

And when they lose focus, they talk. A lot. Or you will have other unwanted behaviors that we could probably have prevented just by keeping our students on their toes with new activities.

If you’re having your students writing in their journals every Friday, they’re going to get tired of it. So instead, make a craft one Friday, a science experiment the next, and maybe journal writing the third week.

This goes for vocabulary work too. One week, use dry erase boards. Next week, try making vocabulary posters. 

And vary your reading passages too. Switch between fiction and non-fiction. Try to find stories that show a lot of emotion from the characters, and stories that are funny.

Remember to build hype, teach expectations early, and vary your activities. It’ll make a world of difference, not only during close reading, but during your other lessons too.

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