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What is close reading?

Strategic close “reading” involves reading, viewing or listening to an informational source or part of a source multiple times to develop a deeper understanding of the content. This type of reading occurs when the student carefully considers various parts of a source (e.g., words, phrases, an image, a graphic), thinking about the value of those parts and how they relate or connect to one another. As the student engages in this process, she may employ the use of multiple strategies, or deliberate actions, that help her make sense of the source. This type of processing creates pathways for the student to think critically about different aspects of the source like the author’s central ideas, writing craft or point of view.

From Close Reading of Informational Sources, Cummins, 2019


Close reading can be integrated easily into reading and content area instruction


Sunday Cummins working

Three-Phase Plan for Learning

The “three-phase plan for teaching” is a model for instruction that integrates the use of close reading to make better sense of a source. Below is a short description of each phase. This plan may occur over one or more lesson periods. The sample lessons (provided on this site) follow this plan and you can read more about using this plan in Close Reading of Informational Sources. Click the button below for a complimentary downloadable template you can fill in with your own plans.

Meet the Source

  • Students read-view-listen to the source as a whole.
  • Teacher confers with individual students
  • Group discusses learning and insight.

Meet the Strategies

  • Teacher introduces comprehension strategies for use during close reading.
  • Students return to the source or a difficult part of the source.
  • Students engage in guided and independent strategic close reading.

Meet the Response

  • Teacher introduces prompt for written response.
  • Students plan for writing with teacher support.
  • Students write a response to share with others.