This year I will ask you to read texts closely. The new standards have called this "close read," but this has been done forever. It's simply picking apart the text; thinking about what the author is trying to say, how he or she says it, determine what you agree with or disagree with, look for what you find interesting and so on. In my class, you will learn some symbols to help you close read. By marking areas in the text, you'll be able to return to those places when it's time to chat about the texts we read. Much of what I give you will be printed for you to keep, so you'll be able to mark right on the text. When we read novels and out of the anthology, I'll provide you with post-it notes so you can make your notes on those. We will read these texts a few times. The first read is the close read. From there, we'll jump into the lesson for the day and break the text down based on what I have to teach you. Today, I'll model how to close read and let you practice on your own. You'll get better at this over time, so don't expect to be perfect today.
You are going to find a ton of information on close reads. Some research says to do three levels of the close read, and I agree, but it's not something I do every time. Some teachers give kids guiding questions for the close read. I don't, but if it's something that works for you, try it out. I see close read as interacting with the text on a level that works for each child. Some of my kids aren't going to get the text at all, but they're going to get something out of it. If they read it over once, simply to interact, they'll have a small bit of background to help them build on my lesson. Close reads came out of a notion that we can't all have background built for us to read everything we read. It's impossible. When I pick up a book and I don't understand the binary numbers section, I can't find a teacher and ask them to build my background so that I can better understand what I'm reading. I have to know that I don't understand it, and then find ways to build that background myself. Not all kids will do this, but we have to teach them strategies to work through their struggles. This what I aim to do. I used to call this interactive reading, but then Common Core gave it a new name. I use the term close read so that my students are prepared for the terminology in each grade.
I've modeled my close read that I did with the class. I picked a text that I'd never read before (seabiscuit) and just grabbed 2 paragraphs. I don't want to do a close read from a passage I read before. The idea is to show the kids your thoughts while reading for the first time. They need to see the initial thoughts, the misconceptions, the confusion, the excitement in figuring something out. When we rehearse these modeled lessons for the kids, it makes it hard to show them what real readers think and they start to believe there is something wrong with them when they struggle. We all struggle; we just learned the tools necessary to get better. In my close read, I did try to think more like a 5th grader and acted like I didn't know the meanings of words, but I knew those were words they may not understand right now. Even though I had an idea that this was a race, I truly said my thoughts out loud as I processed what was happening. That's what kids need to see. That's how reading works.
Now it's time for the kids to try this out reading a passage from Hatchet. I'll work with them for the first paragraph or so, but then let them try reading and marking in the text. While the kids are reading, I want to just move around and see what/how they're doing. I don't want to intervene at this point because it's the beginning, but I will ask kids where they are in the reading and then see if they have notes to match up. I always here, "I just read and don't need to mark." Then I ask the student to tell me everything they just read. One or two with really great recall can do that, but the idea is for them to have a reference of parts to share based on some notes they made. This will take a lot of modeling and consistency. I can't ever let up when students hand in first reads with no marks. To me, that means they weren't thinking while reading.