Close Reading: An Interview with Heidi Morgan

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We interviewed Heidi Morgan, a 5th and 6th grade teacher in New Lenox, Illinois on how she incorporates close reading in her classroom.  She is always working on ways to integrate technology into her teaching and her students’ learning.  Heidi is also an adjunct instructor at University of St. Francis, Edmodo Certified Trainer and Ambassador, a Midwest Spotlight Educator at METC 2014, Illinois Computing Educators Educator of the Year Nominee and Finalist, and a Golden Apple Nominee.

SNAP: How do you incorporate close reading into your instruction?

Heidi: Close reading is incorporated into instruction when we have a piece of text that is rich with the skill or literary element we are learning about.

SNAP: How do you choose texts for close reading?

Heidi: Texts are chosen based on length and quality or amount of the skill or literary element we are learning about at that time. Texts have to be rich and engaging to have children reread them

SNAP: Where do you find texts for close reading?

Heidi: I find texts in our reading text book, in novels we are reading, and from online sources such as Newsela and ReadWorks.

SNAP: What kinds of annotation marks do you have students use?

  • √ When you read something that makes you say, “Yeah, I knew that” or “I predicted that” or “I saw that coming.”
  • * When you read something that seems important, vital, key, memorable, or powerful.
  • ? When you have a question, need clarification, or are unsure.
  • ! When you have a question, need clarification, or are unsure.
  • + When you have a connection between the text and your life, the world, or other things you’ve read.

SNAP: How do you assess students’ close reading skills? 

Heidi: I assess the close reading skills based on comprehension of the piece.

SNAP: Do you follow up with a constructed response after a close reading activity? If so, how do you plan the question.

Heidi: I almost always follow up with a construction response after the close reading activity. The question usually asks students to support a claim based on the piece of text. Since students have already deeply analyzed the piece of text through close reading, so their texts are already annotated and ready to help them support their writing.

SNAP: How often do you close read?

Heidi: We usually do at least one close reading activity a week.

SNAP: What are the benefits of close reading?

Heidi: When students close read they comprehend at a deeper level than if they just read the text once. Close reading also helps support student’s writing in response to a claim. The real benefit of close reading is realized when students begin to close read, using annotations, and rereading as needed independent of teacher direction. When students begin to use the close reading strategy on their own they have truly benefited from close reading instruction.

You can follow Heidi on Twitter @heidiamorgan

Close Reading Interview with Kindergarten Teacher, Tara West!

We interviewed awesome educator Tara West from Little Minds at Work about her experience in close reading and interacting with young readers. Read on and you’ll learn why this interview makes me want to be one of the kids in her classroom!

How do you incorporate close reading into your instruction?
I use close reads daily as part of my daily instruction in reading, content, and writing.  For reader’s workshop we work on a close read each week.  I then incorporate that close read during our writing lessons for the week- making writing relevant for the students.  If it’s a nonfiction close read week we also study that animal, topic, etc during our content studies.

How do you choose texts for close reading?
I first and foremost choose texts that I know my students will connect to.  I choose my teaching themes; friendship, penguins, sharing, etc and then I go find texts that connect to those themes.

Where do you find texts for close reading?
When I first started writing close read plans I went straight to my bookshelves and choose from there.  Now that I have been writing my own close reads for awhile I am getting more comfortable in choosing texts that are not only fun and engaging, but also texts that are complex and align well to other texts I can compare to.

What kinds of annotation marks do you have students use?
In kindergarten we do not do a lot of annotation marks, but as the teacher I do lead the students in searching for unknown words and we circle those on our projected books.

How do you assess students’ close reading skills?
I check for student’s comprehension of the close read book consistently each day of the week.  It might be a paper/pencil task or it might be me taking observations when students turning and talking to their partners to address a text-dependent question I asked.

Do you follow up with a constructed response after a close reading activity? If so, how do you plan the question?
I do a cumulative writing task at the end of the week for the close read.  I also ask several questions throughout the week that the students answer orally.

How often do you close read?
We have a 25 minute close read lesson each week.  During that week we will read two texts…with a close read on one of those texts, then spend one day comparing those two texts.  This is usually a combination of one fiction and one nonfiction texts.

What are the benefits of close reading?
The benefits of close reading are out of this world…it blows me away each and everyday as I hear my students answer higher-order questions about a picture book or nonfiction text.  I went from reading to just be reading, but now each day we are reading, we are reading with a purpose!

Thank you Tara!

Tara_WestTara West
Little Minds At Work
Email: taradc87@hotmail.com
Website: http://littlemindsatwork.blogspot.com/

Don’t forget to check out Tara’s fabulous collection of reading products here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Tara-West

 

 

Close Reading: An Interview with Kathy Sage

We interviewed Kathy Sage, a teacher at Harold S. Winograd K-8 Public School in Greeley, Colorado on how she implements close reading in her classroom. Kathy has over 27 years of experience as a classroom teacher and technology educator. She is the author of a number of handbooks about reading, writing, and technology instruction. Kathy is also the author of Making the Best Use of Blogs, Wikis, Webcasts, and Other Web 2.0 Tools to Enrich Student Learning (Grades K-6).

kathySNAP: How do you incorporate close reading into your instruction?

Kathy: I have been using close reading strategies for the past four years in my core replacement reading group. This group is comprised of students who are above grade level in fluency, phonics decoding, and comprehension. When I first stumbled across the initial close reading methodology, I knew it was a great match. At that time, the only examples I could find were for high school and college-level students. Finding appropriate text, identifying the skill, strategy, or author’s craft to which the text lends itself, and developing the plan for the text is quite time-consuming.

Initially, I was using exemplar text from http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf. These are a collection of text leveled by grades that are excerpts taken from larger articles, poems, fiction, and nonfiction pieces. My students would do the first two reads on their own: 1. Read through to get the gist of the piece, and 2. Read through and highlight any text for which they do not know the meaning and/or pronunciation. The Third Read is usually an inquiry discussion where students try to “guess” the skill, strategy, or author’s craft that is modeled in the piece. As we progress through the various pieces, my students have gotten really good at figuring out what the text demonstrates.

After struggling through a few years of seeking text and developing my own close reading plans, I stumbled upon SnapLearning. My students use SnapLearning in a variety of settings including their after school program and various targeted instruction groups. I like that I can find text that ties in with science and social studies content, so the text supports the content-learning for those areas, too. In addition, the format for highlighting, answering questions, and identifying main ideas, supporting statements, and more, match our state online testing format. The SnapLearning Close Reading Program is a perfect match for my student and me.

SNAP: How do you choose texts for close reading? Where do you find texts for close reading?

Kathy: As I mentioned earlier, I found a source of exemplar text that had been leveled by grade levels. However, now, I use the filter tool in SnapLearning to more closely match text to each child’s abilities and interests. I can sort by Lexile Level, grade level, and fiction or non-fiction. I can assign identified text to an individual student or a group of students. When the students login, they have available the pieces I have pre-selected for their instructional needs.

SNAP: What kinds of annotation marks do you have students use?

Kathy: I have been a “Postit Queen” for years, so I tend to use the annotation strategies that involved using sticky notes. I am a big fan of Laura Randazzo ideas: http://laurarandazzo.com/2014/08/16/close-reading-reinforcement-idea/.

SNAP: How do you assess students’ close reading skills? Do you follow up with a constructed response after a close reading activity? If so, how do you plan the question?

Kathy: I assess students’ close reading skills at least once a week. I can look at the reports from SnapLearning or I can collect a short constructed response to evaluate the students’ level of understanding of the skill, strategy, or author’s craft on which a close reading excerpt focused. The short constructed response is always a question that asks about the text and the identified focus. The students must cite text from the excerpt to support their answers and prove the identified focus’ strength or weakness in the piece.

SNAP: How often do you close read?

Kathy: My students are involved in a close reading activity every day. Sometimes it is a short text I have pulled, sometimes they are excerpts I have pulled and typed up from chapters in the novel we are using for study, and sometimes they are using SnapLearning.co and working through their assigned pieces.

SNAP: What are the benefits of close reading?

Kathy: In my view, the largest benefit of close reading is the inquiry used to analyze the text to find evidence of particular skill, strategy, and especially, author’s craft. This deep interaction with the text strengthens both my students’ understanding of the text and their own writing abilities. My students love close reading, so they are motivated and engaged throughout the lessons as well. I love close reading because not only do my students understand what they read more fully, they then move those skills, strategies, and author’s craft ideas to their own written pieces.

You can follow Kathy on Twitter @kasage.

 

Close Reading: An Interview with Erin Klein

We interviewed Erin Klein, a second grade teacher on how she implements close reading in her classroom. Erin is also the technology chairperson for the Michigan Reading Association, a national A Plus Workshop Presenter, SMART Technologies Exemplary Educator, Really Good Stuff Monthly Blogger, Edutopia Guest Blogger, Edudemic Guest Blogger and Magazine Contributor, National Writing Project member, and award-winning EduTech Blogger. She is the founder of Kleinspiration, an award-winning blog.

ErinSNAP: How do you incorporate close reading into your instruction? 

Erin: We use close reading across the curriculum.  Whenever we are presented with a word with multiple meanings, we will stop to closely examine the text.  We also incorporate  close reading when studying different time periods.  We pause to dig deeper into the dialogue, setting, and character motivation.  Close reading can be done using short  passages, examining sentences, or even looking deeper into a particular paragraph within a story.

SNAP: How do you choose texts for close reading?

Erin: Sometimes I intentionally plan for close reading strategies.  However, sometimes the spontaneous teachable moment lends itself for close reading opportunities.  When I explicitly select a text for close reading, I use various sites and resources.  Some of my favorite texts are from current event pieces the children discuss and we begin to research.

SNAP: Where do you find texts for close reading?

Erin: Texts can be found in various locations.  We love to use non-fiction and fiction texts when examining for close reading.

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SNAP: What kinds of annotation marks do you have students use? 

Erin: My students use different mediums, depending on the marks they’re making.  I introduce using a pencil, skinny marker, and light colored crayon (to serve as a highlighter).  We talk about when to make marginal notes and using our pencil.  We talk about the importance of highlighting and using our crayons.  We also discuss drawing arrows, circling, making question marks, and when to use our skinny markers.  After we model close reading a number of times, I allow the students to determine which tool and which mark best supports their thinking.  As long as I see the footprints of their thinking, I’m not too picky on how they demonstrate their learning and understanding.

SNAP: How do you assess students’ close reading skills?

Erin: Having a student explain their thinking and understanding of a text goes a long way through retelling and synthesizing.  When I can have a conversation with a child, I can best assess their level of understanding.

SNAP: Do you follow up with a constructed response after a close reading activity? If so, how do you plan the question. 

Erin: I don’t always find that a constructed response is necessary after a close reading activity.  When we do have a formal assessment or activity to follow a close reading lesson, I find that allowing the students to openly write to explain their thinking works best.  When we try to provide too much structure, I find that sometimes limits a child’s thinking and creative process.

SNAP: How often do you close read? 

Erin: I like to think that we are always reading closely and for meaning.  However, when explicitly modeling close reading, we practice these strategies daily through guided reading and reading workshop lessons.

SNAP: What are the benefits of close reading?

Erin: The benefits of close reading allow a learner to look deeper into the text.  It allows a student to think beyond the words printed and start to provide context to the piece in a more meaningful manner.

You can follow Erin on twitter @kleinerin. You can also find her on Pinterest and Facebook

Close Reading: An Interview With Dave Stuart Jr

We interviewed Dave Stuart Jr, a full-time teacher at Cedar Springs High School on how he implements close reading in his classroom. Dave Stuart Jr is a full-time teacher at Cedar Springs High School and founder of Teaching the Core. He advocates a non-freaked out, focused approach to literacy and character, and his approach perfectly aligns with everything from the Common Core to, well… common sense.

dave-stuart-jr-headshot-300x300SNAP: How do you incorporate close reading into your instruction?

Dave: I teach my students to read closely for a purpose — that’s the key. For example, if they’ll be writing an open-ended response to a text, they should closely read for things the author says that they have something to say about.

SNAP: How do you choose texts for close reading?

Dave: I look for texts that connect to what we’re currently studying in class. My goal is texts that are appropriately complex for 9th graders — I then scaffold as needed for my struggling readers.

SNAP: Where do you find texts for close reading?

Dave: Kelly Gallagher’s articles of the week page, Newsela.com, TheWeek.com, my short story anthologies from college, our world history textbook — it depends on the kind of text I’m looking for.

SNAP: What kinds of annotation marks do you have students use?

Dave: I tell my students to give 1-2 thoughtful annotations per page, and those annotations should align with their purpose for reading. I explain the “purposeful annotation” concept, in-depth, right here. So I guess my answer to the question is that I don’t give specific marks; instead, I want intelligible thoughts that students can expand upon in post-reading writing or discussion.

SNAP: How do you assess students’ close reading skills?

Dave: I quickly skim their annotations while walking around and checking to ensure they are understanding the assignment and the text.

SNAP: Do you follow up with a constructed response after a close reading activity? If so, how do you plan the question?

Dave: I often do — I try to pick questions that can be dealt with in 1-2 paragraphs and that are provocative. The ideal question engages my students and is informed by a careful reading of the text.

SNAP: How often do you close read?

Dave: Several times per week.

SNAP: What are the benefits of close reading?  

Dave: Having students read a text closely helps them to have something to say about a text and to based conclusions drawn from the text on textual evidence.

My goal is and always will be to have kids reading as much as possible. Reading a variety of shorter texts closely is one way that we do that.

You can follow Dave on Twitter @davestuartjr