Instructional Move 4: Close Reading

Three years ago, as I started my first work around close reading, Google searches revealed almost nothing. There were a couple of videos and some books but none of these were created specifically for a K-12 audience. Now, of course, there is no shortage of books, videos, trainings, webinars, conference workshops, and print materials that describe this instructional approach. Before you blow through your modest budget on any of these items, consider learning about the move through a number of free and well-vetted materials.

David Coleman did not invent close reading but he certainly brought it to a lot of people’s attention when he described it at a PARCC conference three years ago. Watch from minute 4:08 through 8:12 as Coleman contrasts “typical” reading instruction to close reading.

Dr. Stephen Gehrke worked with teachers in Washoe and generously shared his materials (here) to help contextualize what close reading is and a method for doing close reading with students.

Dr. Louisa Moats, contributing author to the Common Core State Standards, explains close reading here.

Tennessee has created a Guide to Close Reading that answers the following questions: What is close reading? Why is close reading important? and How is close reading done?

The Aspen Institute published “Implementing the Common Core State Standards: A Primer on ‘Close Reading of Text’” (here). Coauthored by Sheila Brown and Lee Kappes, the primer defines close reading, provides strategies for its implementation, and connects this instructional approach to the standards.

Those of you who are employing the close reading strategy in your classroom may find this Standford news article interesting (here).  Researches are demonstrating that close reading increases neural activity and “how cognition is shaped not just by what we read, but how we read it.”

You can view the close reading strategy, matched to Martin Luther King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”, with students. Part One and Part Two.

You can find close reading exemplars here and here. You can find over 40 social studies/history close reading exemplars by joining an Edmodo group here.

The Aspen Institute posted a close reading exemplar of Russell Freedman’s The Voice that Challenged a Nation here.

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About Aaron Grossman

I am a 5th grade teacher at Roy Gomm Elementary in Reno, Nevada. I started working with elementary students as part of the Montana Reads program and AmeriCorps. In 2001, after graduating from the University of Montana and moving to Reno, Nevada, I student taught at Rita Cannan Elementary before receiving a 6th grade position at Veterans Elementary. I moved out of the classroom to be a Literacy Coordinator, then an Instructional Coach, and finally a School Improvement Program Coordinator. In 2011, I began working on the Nevada Academic Content Standards in the district’s Curriculum & Instruction Department. I returned to the classroom for the 2015-2016 school year to teach 4th grade at Huffaker Elementary. Before returning to the classroom, I helped develop the Core Task Project that has been featured by National Public Radio, the Gates Foundation, American Radio Works, Eduwonk, the Fordham Institute, Vox, and the Center for American Progress. In 2014, I received the Leader to Learn From Award for my teacher-centered initiative and work to bring college, career, and civics ready outcomes into Northern Nevada classrooms (here). In 2015, I was appointed by Governor Sandoval serve on the Statewide RPDP Council. The same year, Nevada’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero placed me on the state’s State Improvement Team. This year I will be part of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Advisory Group. I am Google Certified Educator and a Nevada Teacher Ambassador. I believe strongly that teaching content is teaching reading and I make sure my students have ample opportunities to work with social studies, history, science and art outcomes. I do what I can to blend the learning for my students and this blog is part of that effort. You can contact me at coretaskproject@gmail.com
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