Teaching close reading, a way to deeper learning?

Looking for ways to ensure deeper learning in your English class? Thinking about how you are going to work with different text types this year? Here is a neat infographic and also a good explanation of the term close reading. Something to use with short stories, specialized texts and also text from other areas students are studying this year. My aim this year is to use material from other subjects my students have to make Eglish class more interesting and relevant to the students.

Close reading is thoughtful, critical analysis of a text that focuses on significant details or patterns in order to develop a deep, precise understanding of the text’s form, craft, meanings, etc. It is a key requirement of the Common Core State Standards and directs the reader’s attention to the text itself.

The main intention of close reading is to engage students in the reading of complex texts. Fisher, Frey and Hattie (2016, p. 89) outline four elements to support close reading:

  • repeated reading of a short text or extract
  • annotation of the short text or extract to reflect thinking
  • teacher’s questioning to guide analysis and discussion
  • students’ extended discussion and analysis.  Source: Close reading

As an analytical skill, close reading, once developed, enables students to thoroughly engage with complex texts across different content areas. It’s a Swiss knife with multifunctions. Students can use it to read science texts, analyze canonical literary texts, or uncover the hidden assumptions embedded in an online textual advertisement. As Johnson et al (2013) argued, reading a text closely “involves analyzing the unfolding of all text dimensions, including language, form, argument, and ideologies within texts, emphasizing the particular over the general (Fisher & Frey, 2012; Richards, 1929)” (p. 111). The purpose of close reading is to strip the text of all of its meanings and identify its ‘bones’. In doing so, students draw on  both textual and contextual cues to formulate a grounded understanding of the deeper meanings of the text. Source: Educational technology and Mobile learning


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