To begin a CLOSE reading I start by having students read and annotate the article. With Halloween being so near, an article on Bats sounded appropriate. We have practiced only annotating with the chart provided. The chart includes main idea, unknown words, and important details.
Students are given time to read to themselves and annotate using the above notations. It is also important to give students time to write what they are initially thinking about what they read. I offer prompts to help get them started. I try not to do this so I get their initial thinking and what they have learned.
Once students are given the opportunity to read and write. I will now read the passage once through fluently. The second time I am read I am going to model annotation and do a think aloud. I want students to see and hear what I would be doing if I were reading this myself and not aloud. This "thinking aloud' is needed for them to see exactly what good readers do to understand what they are reading.
As I annotate, I am explaining the reason I choose this annotation and how they can help me better understand my reading. I might even model some note taking in the margins to show how I can paraphrase to further my understanding.
Vocabulary is another key element that I make sure I draw attention to. Key words and phrases can help me be a better reader and it helps me understand. I might even model using the iPad or dictionary to look up unknown words.
Students have had the opportunity to respond to their reading and now need another opportunity to respond. The first response is their thoughts and what they took from their own reading. Now that I have modeled and reread, students get to respond again adding to their original thought. I give them anywhere from five to ten minutes to write. Some students might want to create a new piece and I allow them to do this.
I challenge them to use the text to strengthen their response and to explain their thoughts. Most of my students are beginning to understand how to do this, but is still tricky for some. I model an example if needed to get them started. I try not to do this so that I do not influence their writing.
The next aspect is the questioning portion. The questions are not easy response or specific answer questions. The key to the questions are that students have to use the text to support their answers. They need to be able to elaborate their thoughts or give ample explanation for their answer. This can be the hardest part of a CLOSE reading, choosing and developing the questions.
For this passage I chose the following text embedded questions to ask my class: "What is the main diet of bats? Are there bats that eat differently?," "What interesting fact was new to you about bats?" and "There was an interesting comparison of mother bats, what was it?" We discussed their answers and I made sure to have them support their answers with evidence.