When students enter the classroom today, they find the text Firestorm by Jean Craighead George on their desks. They flip through the text as they wait for instructions. When all are settled, their only instruction is to find a partner and begin reading this story.
This day is the beginning of a close read for the students. Even though my insides are itching to build background knowledge and dive into the ideas they have no idea of, I know I can't. The beginning of a close read is for the students to interact with and absorb the text. The only instructions I give the students is to set their purpose. I tell them, "You are going to read this story to find out how a forest fire can be a good thing." There is an audible murmur because they don't believe that they'll find it. I love that part!!
While they read, I monitor behavior and try not to answer questions.
After all the student groups have finished reading, I have them use face partners to discuss the answer to their purpose for reading- How can a forest fire be a good thing? After the face partners discuss, we choose a few people to share. It seems that the students understand what the text says about a forest coming back healthier after a fire, but they're not convinced.
After the discussion, I hand out a few text dependent questions for the students to answer. All year, we have been working on using specific text evidence, so..... hopefully that's what I get when I grade the questions.
During this time, I do want the students to work independently with their text and answer the questions with their own thinking so instead of letting them choose partners, I let them choose a comfortable spot in the room and begin their work.
After the allotted time to work, I collect the questions to look through them before the next day's lesson. I tell the students that tomorrow, we will go through a few questions to help evaluate the work of our classmates and we will also read the story once again together using post it notes to mark the text. (Why do post it notes always get a great response?!)