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close reading nonfiction

It’s ok to confer about just a word or phrase

Do you have students who blow through texts, getting just the gist, but not really thinking through specific details that might make a difference in their understanding? Recently when I leaned in to confer with a student, he had just read this sentence: Surf lifesaving clubs are Australian institutions dotted along the country’s coastline.  This …Read more

Do our students understand “definition” and “example”?

Yesterday I was giving a demo lesson closely reading a science text when I realized the students did not understand the terms–definition and example. Many nonfiction authors use definitions and examples and other types of details like cause and effect when they describe concepts like forces, magnets, weather and so forth. Readers need to recognize …Read more

Do students understand what we mean by “key details”?

Is the term “key details” vague for your students? I’m teaching 2nd/3rd grade students this week and trying out an anchor chart that attempts to make the term “key details” more concrete for students. I think a “key detail” might change depending on what our purpose is for reading. Here are a few of the …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

Close Reading Lesson with Elijah McCoy’s Steam Engine

All Aboard! Elijah McCoy’s Steam Engine by Monica Kulling (2013) Recently I had the pleasure of teaching demonstration lessons in several third grade classes. In one class, the students were immersed in a unit of study with the essential question “How can learning help us grow?” The text for the lesson was All Aboard! Elijah …Read more

“Can’t live without doing” during my close reading lessons

Last week I had the honor of visiting multiple schools and giving demonstration lessons in 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms. For each lesson, there were 10-15 teachers observing. Afterwards we debriefed about methodology and evidence of student learning. Some amazing insight was gained – as well as a sense of affirmation for what they are …Read more

Please don’t overdose on “close reading”

I have been asked several times recently, “How often should teachers engage students in close reading?” I don’t have an easy answer on this. I’d like to start by saying that close reading of an excerpt of informational text should be part of a larger integrated unit of study. These units need to be filled …Read more

PARCC’s 3rd grade sample test items – make time to read and this is why…

This is a quick and dirty summary of the newly released PARCC sample test items. If you are in one of the 19 states that will be taking the PARCC tests in 2014-2015, thought this might help you think about what our students will be facing. Third Grade Sample Items – summary and a few …Read more

Read This Book on Titanic Not That One

A Night to Remember (Lord, 1955) is listed as an exemplar text in Appendix B of the Common Core. It’s okay, but not stellar. Instead I would recommend reading Titanic: Voices from the Disaster (Hopkinson, 2012). It is a better exemplar of what 6-8th grade students should be reading. See my blog on Hopkinson’s book …Read more

Ann Petry’s Harriet Tubman does not meet current standards for “nonfiction”

While there might be value in reading this book to get a “feel” for Tubman’s life, it should be considered historical fiction not nonfiction (despite being listed as an exemplar informational text in the CCSS Appendix B). It was written in 1955 and Petry’s purpose was to provide readers with a viewpoint of slavery that …Read more