Do you want to help your students become better readers? One of the best ways to do that is by helping them develop strategies for close reading. Close reading is a way of analyzing a text closely in order to understand it deeply. There are many ways to support students as they learn these strategies, and today I’m going to share some practical ways you can do it too!
Set a Purpose for Reading
One way to support students with strategies for close reading is by setting a purpose for reading. When students have a specific reason for reading, they are more likely to pay attention to the details in the text. You can help them set a purpose for reading in two ways:
- Previewing or reviewing the standard and the reading skill (character actions, point of view, central message or theme)
- Providing a few guiding questions that are aligned with the reading standard.
Reading Skill: Discovering how a character’s actions contribute to the events in the story.
R.L.3.3: Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
The guiding questions could be:
- What is this story about?
- What do I notice about the characters?
- What questions do I have?
- What are the main events in the story?
Now, students are reading with a focus on finding the answers to these questions.
1st Reading Strategies
One close reading strategy that can be used with any text is the “first read.” This is when students simply read the story to get an idea of what it’s about. They can jot down some notes about the main characters and events, but they don’t need to worry too much about understanding every detail.
I ask students to circle or jot down unknown words during the first reading too.
After this reading, we try to use context clues to determine the meaning. If the student still doesn’t understand, we go to the dictionary for help. Doing this step is vital for readers to get the full context of the story, which will result in better reading comprehension.
2nd Reading Strategies
When you are closely reading, you look at the text carefully and deliberately. This means that you are not just skimming or scanning, but you are really trying to understand what the author is saying and how they are saying it. This is when I want students to begin to identify the elements of the standard – in this case, character actions and how they contribute to the sequence of events.
During this stage, they should underline or highlight key details in the text. If they are reading text that cannot be written on – post-it notes will work for this purpose too. You need to model this skill many times for your students. Otherwise, they will underline the wrong details or, even worse – underline too many details.
When they finish, the 2nd reading is the time for them to complete a graphic organizer to sequence the events and tie in what effect the character has on each one.
If your students have focused on the standard, they have underlined the most important details that will also go on the sequence of events graphic organizer.
After Reading Activities
At this point, students should be ready to respond to comprehension questions from the text. If they need to read the text again – let them. It will strengthen their overall comprehension.
One thing that improves reading comprehension and responses to comprehension questions is requiring students to cite text evidence.
This makes a huge difference because it requires them to prove their answer – not just guess.
One way I like to support students with this skill is to give them a “cheat sheet” of sentence starters to use when citing text evidence. They can choose which one they want to use, giving them the support they need to respond correctly to a comprehension question.
Get this Citing Text Evidence “Cheat Sheet” FREEBIE here.
I hope you have learned at least one new tip for supporting your students with strategies for close reading!
3rd Grade Close Reading Resources
You could use any of these third-grade reading resources to support your students with strategies for close reading. Just click on the cover to see a more detailed preview!
4th Grade Close Reading Resources
These fourth-grade reading resources align to 4th-grade reading standards and will make supporting students with close reading strategies much easier!
The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.Robert John Meehan
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