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close reading nonfiction texts

Observing for what students are “not saying” during conferences

During conferences, I listen to what students are saying but I also listen for what they are NOT saying. For many students, when you ask them to tell you what they have learned from a complex informational text (or a part of a text), they will talk about content they understood without you. Rarely will …Read more

“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

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

Sample Lesson – Close reading with NewsELA article

Do your students need help with clearly stating a main idea? And with organization when they elaborate on that main idea? Last month I had the honor of teaching close reading of an informational article to a small group of fifth grade students for a demonstration lesson in front of 40 educators in the North …Read more

NEWSELA–I like this site but beware…

Just be careful. NEWSELA is a great site for short informational articles for students to read. The  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

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

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

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

Choosing info text excerpts for close reading

Close reading can be used for the purpose of moving students towards deeper understanding of a content area concept or theme. How are excerpts of text for close reading chosen, though? Here are a few suggestions. If you are just working with ONE (well-written) text (versus a text set) and want students to grasp the …Read more

Close Reading Instruction Essential #1

When you engage students in close reading of an informational text excerpt, you must study that excerpt thoroughly. I find that I have to read and reread carefully, keeping the purpose for close reading in mind, doing my own close reading (line by line) and taking notes. I can use these notes later as I …Read more