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Close Reading and the Common Core
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Close Reading and the Common Core

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explore effective strategies for teaching close reading of complex texts, a central focus of the ELA Common Core State Standards. …

explore effective strategies for teaching close reading of complex texts, a central focus of the ELA Common Core State Standards.

The process for engaging students in the close reading of complex texts
To discover the importance of setting a clear purpose and recognizing text structure
To gain methods for having students re-read the text and annotate it in order to examine key vocabulary, structure, language, and meaning


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  • 1. Diane Rymer Vice President, Professional Development Programs CLOSE READING
  • 2. In this webinar we will address : The process for engaging students in the close reading of complex texts The importance of setting a clear purpose and recognizing text structure Methods for having students re-read the text and annotate it in order to examine key vocabulary, structure, language, and meaning 2 Webinar Objectives:
  • 3. Workshop Question: How do we help our students become critical readers and interpreters of text?
  • 4. CLOSE READING 4
  • 5. How do we avoid this? 5
  • 6. Questions  How were you taught to analyze, discuss, and take notes on texts when you were in school?  Did your approach to reading and annotating texts change as you progressed through school? If so, how and why?  Is there a difference between “reading to know” and “reading to understand”? © 2012 Catapult Learning, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 6
  • 7. “Close reading is an intensive analysis of a text in order to come to terms with what it says, how it says it, and what it means.” -Dr. Tim Shanahan, director of the Center for Literacy at University of Illinois- Chicago 7
  • 8. What is Close Reading?  Reading to uncover layers of meaning that lead to deep comprehension  Engaging with complex text directly and examining meaning thoroughly • Central ideas & supporting details • Vocabulary • Craft technique • Author’s purpose 8
  • 9. What does Close Reading require?  Requires multiple reads of text  Uses shorter texts  Focuses on analysis & discussion 9
  • 10. CCR Anchor Standards for Reading (Literature, Informational Text, non-ELA subject areas) Key Ideas and Details 1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. 2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas. 3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. Craft and Structure 4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone. 5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole. 6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas 7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words. 8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence. 9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity 10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
  • 11. Close Reading 1. Read, with a pen/pencil in hand 2. Annotate, note what is surprising (!), significant (highlight/underline/*), or raises questions (?); circle unknown vocabulary 3. Consider patterns in the text, are there words, phrases, or thoughts that repeat, are contrary, or are similar 4. Ask questions, especially how and why, about the patterns noticed Throughout the process, the teacher can lead this activity as a whole class discussion or students can engage with peers in pairs or groups using a “think- pair-share” approach. Source: Adapted from Kain, P. (1998). How to do a close reading. Boston, MA: Writing Center, Harvard University
  • 12. SIX ELEMENTS OF COMPLEX TEXT 12
  • 13. Text Relationships  Readers have to identify relationships in texts that are implicit and deeply embedded in the message.  Readers must be able to make inferences and construct a meaning that is not always directly stated.  Complex texts may present multiple themes, multiple perspectives or perspectives unlike those held by the reader. From Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines (2011) by Doug Buehl 13
  • 14. Richness of Detail  Increasingly complex texts provide more depth of background detail and conceptual information  Readers must navigate sophisticated material to construct meaning  Information is displayed in multiple visual forms and graphic representations  Exhibit higher intertextuality  Lengthier and require readers to determine essential ideas and supporting details From Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines (2011) by Doug Buehl 14
  • 15. Text Structure  More elaborate organization of ideas and information  Awareness of text structure and ability to track development of explanations, arguments, and ideas are key to comprehending complex texts  Texts require readers to recognize text structures that are not explicitly stated  Authors may present more than a single logical idea between ideas From Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines (2011) by Doug Buehl 15
  • 16. Writing Style  More intricate writing styles with more lengthy and sophisticated sentence structures  Readers need to track connective language and analyze grammatical structure  Readers must be sensitive to author’s tone and determine how use of language influences understanding of a text  Writing styles may not mirror contemporary or familiar conventions From Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines (2011) by Doug Buehl 16
  • 17. Vocabulary Density  Increase in challenging vocabulary  Precision and clarity in use of language; emphasis on academic discourse  Greater frequency of highly technical disciplinary language From Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines (2011) by Doug Buehl 17
  • 18. Author’s Purpose  May require readers infer author’s purpose for writing text  May be clearly stated or ambiguous  May be multiple purposes From Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines (2011) by Doug Buehl 18
  • 19. THE CLOSE READING PROCESS The Close Reading Process 19
  • 20. The Close Reading Process Step One: Set a Purpose for Reading (Teacher Hat) • Present an overarching, text-based question that only a close reading will answer. • Present the step-by-step structure • Present a short passage for study 20
  • 21.  Step Two: First Reading (or read-aloud) (Student Hat) • Read or listen in order to answer questions such as: – Is this fiction or non-fiction? – Who is the story about? / What topic is the article or essay about? – What is the main thing the main character does? / What is the most important thing said about the main topic? – What was the author’s purpose in writing? 21 The Close Reading Process
  • 22. The Close Reading Process  Step Three: Second Reading with Purpose for Reading (Student Hat) • Students create 3-column notes to examine issues such as: – How does the author use structure to advance the main ideas? – What important, interesting, or confusing words, phrases, or imagery does the author use to advance the main ideas? – What recurring patterns do you see? – What internal similarities or contradictions do you see? – What other details do you see that support the main ideas? (How is the author telling this story or advancing this argument or discussion?) – What questions would you have for the author along the way? (“Why are you doing that?” “Why did you say it that way?”) 22
  • 23. Three-Column Note-Taking Quotes Notes Questions “We wear the mask” (title) Title gives you the whole main idea of the poem It’s a poem, so he doesn’t mean it literally Is “we” everyone or just African Americans? Or African American males? Why is it “the” mask? Does everyone wear the same one? Is there only one? Students copy words, phrases, images, sentences of interest or question Students jot down notes about the quote, its meaning, and its importance Students pose questions about the text to themselves, the author, or the teacher 23
  • 24. Three-Column Note-Taking for Non-Readers Quotes Notes Questions HIDING PRETENDING AFRAID James asks why the author keeps doing it if he knows it’s wrong or unhealthy Create a graphic organizer with words and/or other images pre-selected Students can make pictures, write single words, or dictate ideas to the teacher or aide Have students listen in pairs and ask questions of each other at pause points. 24
  • 25. Annotating the text Text annotations are….  Marks and notes made within the body of reading (or on sticky notes) to create a reference point for students when they return to the text and help them process the text during reading. Why do students annotate text?  In order to be able to ‘prove it’ and justify opinions  To generate discussion based on text evidence  It helps to clarify text and create deeper understandings of the text  Teaches students a purpose for reading  Helps support students’ comprehension  Brings academic vocabulary and sentence structure to the forefront for students  Raises the rigor by supporting students to find the key points and vocabulary  To support students’ re-reading of the text
  • 26. How to Annotate There’s no one correct way  Circle or put boxes, triangles, or clouds around words or phrases.  Use abbreviations or symbols – [brackets], stars (multiple stars for varying degrees of importance), !!exclamation points!!, ??question marks??, numbers, etc.  Connect words, phrases, ideas, circles, boxes, etc. with lines or arrows.  Underline – CAUTION: Use this method sparingly. Underline only a few words.  Highlight – use CAUTION – don’t highlight everything!  Color-mark: Mark with a different color each type of image, image pattern, or motif that is predominant in the passage.  Create your own code.  Use post-it notes ONLY if you have exhausted all available space or don’t own the book.  Make brief comments in the margins or between the lines.
  • 27. Text Annotation Example
  • 28. The Close Reading Process  Step Four: Discussion • Teacher poses text-dependent questions that require close analysis of the text, its structure, and the author’s craftsmanship • Teacher guides students to refer explicitly to their notes in answering questions • Teacher uses questioning to build deep understanding of the text and help students engage with the larger purpose for reading • Teacher may scaffold by having students answer overarching questions as a class before attempting any writing 28
  • 29. Discussion Questions Examples  How is this similar to or different from…?  Why did … occur?  Explain the series of events that led to…  Is there a better solution to…?  Defend your position on… (use text-based evidence)  Respectfully, critique your peer’s position on…  Justify your solution…  Evaluate the effectiveness of ….  What would happen if…?  Design a … to do…  Formulate a counter-argument to …  Construct a problem for your peers to solve…  Given your approach, devise a formula to solve…  Imagine how the character would handle the circumstances … 29
  • 30. The Close Reading Process  Step Five: Writing • Teacher has students respond to the overarching question(s) in a paragraph (or a paired discussion for lower grades) • Teacher guides students to make specific references to the text in answering questions or advancing arguments, using the notes they took while reading 30
  • 31.  Students are expected to engage in rich, evidence- based dialogue about a text they have read  Teachers must now train students to stay in the text, to draw conclusions and make arguments about the text and do so through the text itself  Teachers should be asking, “where do you see that in the text? What paragraph? What sentence? What word?” and students must begin to think and argue through and with texts by constantly being asked to find evidence in what they have read. Text-based Answers 31
  • 32. TEXT-DEPENDENT QUESTIONS 32
  • 33. The Power of Questions in our Classroom
  • 34. Creating Text-Dependent Questions Good text-dependent questions will often linger over specific phrases and sentences to ensure careful comprehension of the text—they help students see something worthwhile that they would not have seen on a more cursory reading. Source: http://www.achievethecore.org/steal-these-tools/text-dependent-questions Discuss: How does asking text-dependent questions support the Close Reading process? 34
  • 35. 35 Encourage students to: •Engage in rich dialogue about what they read •Draw conclusions about a text •Make arguments and draw conclusions about a text using the text to justify and support reasoning •Stay in the text Encourage teachers to: •Let the students do the thinking •Take a backseat and allow the students to learn from one another •Ask specific questions that push students to stay in the text Text-based Answers
  • 36. Text-Dependent Questions 36 In “Casey at the Bat,” Casey strikes out. Describe a time when you failed at something. In “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King discusses nonviolent protest. Discuss, in writing, a time when you wanted to fight against something that you felt was unfair. In “The Gettysburg Address” Lincoln says the nation is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Why is equality an important value to promote? What makes Casey’s experiences at bat humorous? What can you infer from King’s letter about the letter that he received? “The Gettysburg Address” mentions the year 1776. According to Lincoln’s speech, why is this year significant to the events described in the speech? Not Text-Dependent Text-Dependent
  • 37. Frog and Toad Are Friends “But, Toad,” cried Frog, “you will miss all the fun!” “Listen, Frog” said Toad. “How long have I been asleep?” “You have been asleep since November,” said Frog. “Well then,” said Toad, “a little more sleep will not hurt me. Come back again and wake me up at about half past May. Good night, Frog.” “But, Toad,’ said Frog, “I will be lonely until then.” Toad did not answer. He had fallen asleep. Frog looked at Toad’s calendar. The November page was still on top. Frog tore off the November page. He tore off the December page. And the January page, the February page, and the March page. He came to the April page. Frog tore off the April page too. Then Frog ran back to Toad’s bed. “Toad, Toad, wake up. It is May now.” “What?” said Toad. “Can it be May so soon? “Yes,” said Frog. “Look at your calendar.” Toad looked at the calendar. The May page was on top. “Why, it is May!” said Toad as he climbed out of bed. 37
  • 38. Close Reading in your school or classroom Knowing your students, how would you structure your close reading? Consider:  Using graphic organizer or other scaffolds for complex text  Skill level  Whole class vs. small group discussion  Buddy reading
  • 39. Wrap-Up 39 What? • What did you learn today? So What?- • What does it mean for you in the work you do? Now What? • What will you change in your practice to reflect what you have learned?
  • 40. 40