Teaching close reading to younger students is hard!
A lot of the aspects when you are teaching close reading are more applicable to older students in middle school or high-school. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to reading. So when I began to teach close reading to my first graders, I was intimidated! So intimidated, in fact, that I would try to avoid it altogether!
Close Reading Guide For Younger Students
Once I learned how to teach close reading, my own confidence as a teacher grew. I put together this guide for teaching close reading to younger students, and you can download it today to get started!
But, honestly, my intimidation was because I did not know HOW to teach close reading to my beginning readers. I was a confident reading teacher, but having graduated from college in 1998, close reading wasn’t front and center for literacy instruction. My students could decode and read, but I noticed they needed a push to understand the meaning of their text passages.
So I spent a year in my classroom with the goal of truly learning how to teach close reading to my students. I wanted them to learn how to annotate and confidently read a harder passage. I wanted to teach them to reread the same text, getting more meaning each time. And I wanted to teach them to love new vocabulary words and phrases.
Most of all, I wanted them to be excited about learning new things while reading!
It wasn’t easy. That year, I didn’t feel like I was teaching close reading the way it should be taught. But I didn’t give up. I kept practicing and adapting or eliminating the steps that did not apply to a first-grade student. Before you knew it, close reading became the highlight of our week.
Here’s what I learned:
My students learned to talk to each other about their text! Conversation is so important, especially when we have SO much screen time. Before this, I had the wish that my kiddos could communicate with each other about the things they learned or struggled with, but I never taught them HOW.
My Close Reading Results
After teaching close reading strategies to my first-graders, I noticed that they had more direction for their communication which helped them learn how to speak to each other.
Having conversations with each other in a close read lesson also helped them communicate with each other the rest of their school day! I noticed that students who normally didn’t get along with each other were speaking to each other with more respect. I noticed that students who were shy came out of their shells, and I could apply these conversational techniques to other subjects too!
My students gained more confidence with reading. When you are teaching a close reading lesson, the text passages are more difficult than what they are reading independently. The strategies for close reading helped my students avoid overwhelm with longer, more difficult passages.
More Close Reading Benefits
So when it was time to read for a reading assessment, especially for a cold-read passage they’ve never seen before, I had less tears and frustration in my classroom. My students could apply what they learned in close reading to new text. Before I began teaching close reading, a text passage with multiple paragraphs and difficult words or phrases would be too overwhelming. Afterwards, my students could take their tests like champs!
I noticed my student’s vocabulary and word usage improved! Not only that, they were excited to learn new words because they took ownership of them. I learned that it was more effective to lead them to find the vocabulary definitions and meanings within the text, rather than to tell them the word, explain the definition and expect them to remember it all.
They became masters at finding out what a word meant.
Teaching vocabulary in close reading lessons by using the context clues in the passage helped my students with their independent reading!
So when I was teaching guided reading to a small group of students, they were ready to pause for a tricky word and figure it out with little or no assistance from me.
When you are teaching reading, you will have struggling readers who act out or have off task behavior during your lesson.
I think back to the time when my dad was trying to help me with chemistry in high-school. It was my hardest subject, and I’m still impressed when chemistry comes easy for someone. Poor dad had to sit with me and try to explain some strange formula for some strange isotope (I’m making that terminology up, is that even a chemistry term?) and I literally cried and yelled at him. It wasn’t his fault, I just didn’t understand. So I acted out.
Every time I saw a student with off-task or undesirable behavior in my classroom, I tried to remember my sophomore year of high school in chemistry class. It helped me be more patient. It also helped me remember that there was more than one way to learn anything, and I needed to learn chemistry a different way. Side note: My parents got me a tutor to avoid chem fights at the dining room table and I pulled off a C in the class!
All of this is to say that my struggling readers had a place in a close reading lesson. They learned to be successful and learned different reading strategies. Once I felt more confident in chemistry, I stopped being so mean to my dad. (Seriously, sorry, dad!) And once my students felt comfortable reading, my classroom behavior improved.
Speaking of classroom behavior, something unexpected happened!
My students also became more responsible!
There are a lot of routines and steps for close reading, and with practice, your students take ownership of their reading. I noticed this in their literacy centers: students who didn’t always stay on task at my classroom library were reading with more stamina for longer periods of time.
They also PUT THE BOOKS AWAY when they were finished.
I can’t even understand the correlation between a close reading lesson and the good habits of cleaning up after themselves at a reading station, but whatever was happening was working! I’ll take it!
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!
You might be interested in these strategies for close reading:
- What Is Close Reading?
- How To Teach Your Students To Annotate
- Writing Your Own Close Reading Passages – Coming Soon
- Focusing On The Vocabulary In Close Read Passages – Coming Soon
- Comprehension Activities And Close Reading – Coming Soon
- Why Teach Close Reading With Interactive Writing – Coming Soon
- I’ve Taught A Close Read Lesson. Now What? – Coming Soon
- What Tools Do I Need To Teach Close Reading? – Coming Soon
- How Can I Teach Close Reading And Have Partner Activities? – Coming Soon
- Important Classroom Management Tips For Close Reading Activities – Coming Soon