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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? Help them slow down by conferring about just a small part of the text–an important word, phrase, sentence. Sample conference When I leaned in to confer with a …Read more

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Do our students notice “definitions” & “examples”?

Do you students notice when authors provide definitions and examples? Many nonfiction authors use these and other types of details when they describe concepts like forces, magnets, weather and so forth. Readers need to recognize these types of details to understand these concepts. I was surprised one day to find out the middle grade students I …Read more

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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

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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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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

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“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

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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

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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

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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

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Intriguing Notices as Mini-Lessons

I’m always intrigued by the notices posted around us. Many are perfect for mini-lessons focused on close reading of informational text. Check out this one I saw in a restroom in Chico, CA. For a close reading exercise, I would put this on the document camera or Smart board and ask students some of the …Read more

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