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close reading nonfiction texts

Don’t neglect connectives like “even though”

BUT. DESPITE. WHEREAS. ALTHOUGH. IN CONTRAST. INSTEAD. HOWEVER. YET. WHILE. NEVERTHELESS. NOTWITHSTANDING. Our students may gloss over these words as they read, not realizing how powerful they are. Words like these signal a causal relationship that is in opposition to what a reader might have expected. These words are a BIG DEAL. Technically they’re called …Read more

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Observing for what students are “not saying” during conferences

During conferences, while I do listen to what students are saying, I also listen for what they are NOT saying. This is why. Frequently when you ask a student to tell you what they have learned from a complex informational source (or a part of a source), they will talk about content they understood without …Read more

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“Why do we have to annotate?”

“Why can’t I just highlight?” Ever heard that from a student? A few weeks ago I had the honor of teaching a class of 5th grade students with the objective of convincing them that annotating is a powerful way to make sense of a source–I did this by helping them realize the value of annotating …Read more

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Do you have high-reading kinders you need to challenge?

Some our of kindergarten students read above grade level. How do we keep them challenged? A colleague of mine, Lisa, engaged a small group in close reading of an informational text about energy with great success. Here are some photos and tips she shared with me. Just some background. These nine students were reading at …Read more

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Three Phase Lesson – Explaining Supporting Evidence

Do your students ever need help with explaining how key details support a main idea? Here are a few thoughts and artifacts from a three-phase lesson I gave. Phase One – Meet the Source The students read the article entitled “Tortoises battle it out with Marines for the right to stay put.” Suggestion – Before …Read more

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NEWSELA–I like this site but beware…

Just be careful. NEWSELA is a great site for short informational articles for students to read. TheĀ  content is usually worthy of student-led discussions and writing about in response. The beauty of NEWSELA is that the same article is available at different Lexile levels. (When you click on an article, check out the blue bar …Read more

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Teaching Main Idea and Details with Photos: Sample Lesson

A simple way to start talking with students about “main ideas” and “supporting details” is to use a photo as a “text.” When you use a photo as a text, you take away the cognitive load of reading and provide more mental space for students to grapple with concepts like “main idea” and “supporting details.” …Read more

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Brief, focused opportunities to build background knowledge

Recently I was asked to teach a lesson to second grade students with an informational text on magnets. As I read through the text, I began thinking about how many of the students I’d be working with may not have had many language and hands-on experiences with magnets or magnetism or the concept of force, …Read more

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New Book for Reading Aloud, Close Reading – Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel (K. G. Davis, 2014) This would make for a great read aloud in 3rd, 4th or 5th grade with opportunities for rereading excerpts of text to think critically about the author’s central ideas and purposes. The main part of the text is written as a narrative with the purpose of …Read more

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Choosing info text excerpts for close reading

Close reading can be powerful experience that moves readers into deeper understanding of a content area concept or theme. But we can’t “close read” everything so how do we make decisions about which excerpts are worthy of close reading? Here are a few suggestions. If you are just working with ONE (well-written) text (versus a …Read more

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