Sunday, July 27, 2014

Falling In Love with Close Reading Study: Chapter 4 If You Build It

Reading Falling in Love with Close Reading has forced me to be more reflective and critical of my practice last year.  I'm now pretty sure that I never taught my students to read closely.  I just expected them to read the same piece of writing several times before responding to text dependent questions.  I never explicitly taught them what they should be doing in these re-readings.

On page 54, the authors return to the routine of reading through a lens, finding patterns and developing a new understanding of the text.  Through this routine, the authors give us a framework to explicitly teach our students to reread a text.  In the narrative that follows, the authors explain that they might study the lenses on one day, and work with patterns and ideas on the second day.  This is a definite departure from my classroom practice as we would work with one portion of text each day and would not return to that portion of text again.

In this routine, students first use a lens to study the text. Examples of lenses:
* descriptions
* dialogue between characters
* flashbacks
* definition of a term

In the lesson narrative, the authors teach students to take note of the different parts of the text and invite the students to notice portions of text that are descriptive and portions of text that have dialogue.

If you've been following along with the book study, you'll notice that this ritual is the same as used for word study and for reading for text evidence.  There are always three parts to the ritual.  You'll also notice in this chapter the expectation that we teach students to use domain specific and genre specific vocabulary when discussing text.

Be sure to enter this week's raffle and check out all of the other blogs in the book study!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Falling In Love with Close Reading: Chapter Three

Hi friends!  I'm back with a quick discussion of Chapter 3 from Falling in Love with Close Reading by Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts.  This chapter was "A Way with Words: A Study of Word Choice." 

Working with my students this year, I found that my struggling writers had a very difficult time discussing word choice in a text.  Makes sense right?  Students that really couldn't write a narrative without using words such as "good" or "nice" really had a tough time discussing why an author might use a word such as "meandering."  My big ah-ha moment from this chapter was the suggestion to use sentence frames to help students discuss word choice.  For primary teachers this might seem obvious, but for this fifth grade teacher, I don't often use sentence frames.

I think these sentence frames (and the authors offered additional frames on page 42) would work very well on a binder ring for students to use as reference during their small group discussions.  

 I've used similar cards for small group roles.
And for student led discussion prompts.

In my practice last year, I'm not sure I demanded enough of my students when it came to discussing author's choice and word choice.  It felt like all of our discussions ended with the author chose certain words because they would be most interesting to the reader.  While this isn't necessarily incorrect, it's clear to me now that it's not nearly as precise .  Better discussions might have revolved around words that felt hopeful or conveyed a sense of anxiety.

Be sure to check out the other blogs discussing close reading every Sunday!  {Links below!}

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Falling In Love with Close Reading: Chapter 2

 Hey all!  Last week I blogged about the first chapter of Falling in Love with Close Reading and this week I'm back to tell you about chapter 2 "The Essence of Understanding."

I found the first part of this chapter to be particularly relevant to my practice in the classroom.  For years, I've tried to teach my students to "write long" off of their sticky notes. Each year, I have students who master this and write beautifully off of their stickies and I also have other students who struggle to simple post something on a sticky, forget "writing long."  In the first part of this chapter, the authors write "it turned out that the issue was not whether they could cite, the challenge was how they constructed their ideas in the first place" (page 11-12).  Like I've found, they authors wrote "students have an idea, then go find evidence." But what we want is for students to "gather evidence, then develop an idea."  My goodness, I had a fellow this year who really needed a few lessons about using text as the basis for ideas rather than using his imagination!

The idea of reading through a lens is definitely going to become a part of my classroom practice next year as well.  Rather than having students read without purpose, the authors suggest teachers create a chart with their students to teach them to read through a lens.  This lens could be to gather information about
* what characters/people say/think/do
* relationships
* setting descriptions
* time period

The authors lay out a narrative a teacher might use to teach his or her students to read through the lens of studying character.  It's three and half pages of teaching that is in the style of what you might read in Fountas and Pinnell's Guiding Readers and Writers.  It really helped me envision how I might frame a mini lesson or several mini lessons to teach my students how to read through a lens.

From the narratives and anecdotes, you get the sense that the students do a lot of talking. I've always wondered if my reading block was broken at times, because my students definitely talked.  In my early years as a teacher I worried it was too much, but now I don't worry nearly as much when I see my kids leaning across the table to share funny parts of their books, or to ask a neighbor a question.  It's a part of the reading community to have talkers!

Tell me: do you have your students read through lens, or set a purpose for their reading before they begin?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Falling in love with Close Reading Book Study: Chapter 1

Hi friends!  I'm linking up with Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching's Summer Book Study of  Falling in Love with Close Reading. Over the next few weeks, I'll offer a review of the book, chapter by chapter.  You'll be able to check out other blogs for more perspective and hopefully get some great ideas to infuse into your literacy instruction for next year!

Photo Credit: Amazon
 Chapter One: Close Reading, A Love Story

The first thing I noticed about this book is the amount of passion the authors have for literacy.  Their love of teaching really comes through in the way they describe close reading and it's place in our schools.  If you've enjoyed The Book Whisperer or any of Lucy Calkins books (The Art of Teaching Reading especially), I think this book will really speak to you.

If you are in an area that has adopted the CCSS, then you know that close reading is written into the standards in several of the strands.  But what is close reading?  Is it just repeated reading?  (No.)  Is it teacher directed?  (Perhaps at first, but ultimately you want your students to learn to read closely, independently.)  Close reading is "an interaction," is about "making careful observations....and interpretations," and "involves rereading."  Close reading of a short segment of text should help the reader create "new ideas" about the whole text.

Knowing that close reading is a central piece of the literacy standards, what do we need to do in our instruction to teach our students how to read closely?  The authors lay out several bullets of best practices for close reading instruction.  Here are a few I thought were particularly important and that I want to remember come this fall:

Our school uses ReadyGen for our literacy program.  Close reading is a part of our morning, every morning.  (We also work on vocabulary, forming and defending opinions, reading skills such as compare/contrast, identifying theme and writing in response to reading.)

 I can't say that I achieved this level of independence last year, so I am excited to make this my goal for this year.  My students only reread when I prompted them.  They were reluctant to return to the text if it involved searching and they only really went back to text to prove someone wrong during team talk (LOL!). is the problem with scripted literacy program.  The questions are absolutely written to match a book and not the needs of your readers.  BUT, I am positive that the lessons and strategies outlined in this text will work during my guided reading time.

The authors suggest using a ritual to teach students to read closely.  In this structure, the students reading through a lens, use the lenses to look for patterns and use the patterns to develop a new understanding of the text.  The next chapters gives more details about the lenses a student might select, so be sure to check back in next Sunday!  And also be sure to enter the giveaway!

Tell me, what does close reading look like in your classroom?