Digging Deeper in Reading

Close Reading in First Grade at Merryhill Calvine

Introducing close reading

It's important that students understand the purpose behind close reading, as well as the expectations in each phase. I outlined the process to my class using this poster, which we review before beginning each phase of close reading. I found that this poster truly helped students understand my expectations and their goals for each phase.
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Resources Used During Close Reading

First Grade uses a variety of resources when we close read. I use the Readworks website as a resource for finding quality non-fiction passages. We have several posters in our classroom to help guide group discussions, and these can be pulled down and placed at tables for small group discussion as well. I also use a "quick guide" with text dependent question stems, which I can refer to when questioning students during each phase of close reading. I've found these resources to be incredibly helpful keeping students (and me!) focused on the correct phase and on track during reading. And of course, I refer frequently to Fisher and Frey's book as another resource for close reading.
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Phase 1: What does the text say?

First Reading

We break the soil and look for main idea, key details, and a general understanding of the topic. I create a poster while we read, recording student responses. We refer back to this poster throughout the close read process and keep it displayed in the classroom throughout the unit of study.

TDQ examples for phase 1:

What words tell you the main idea of this text?

What are key ideas from this text?

Which key ideas/details support the main idea of the text?

Phase 2: How does the text work?

Second Reading

We get more information during the second read. We look at the: text structure, author's craft, and vocabulary. Students annotate during this step, highlighting unfamiliar words in the passage. Again, I record the vocabulary and student responses on posters that we refer to throughout the close read.

A note about vocabulary: We also use a variety of methods for studying vocabulary in our fiction and non-fiction reading, including student vocab journals, looking for synonyms and antonyms, drawing pictures, acting out the words, and having students "turn and talk" to use the words in sentences which they can then share with the class.

TDQ examples for phase 2:

What vocabulary words look unfamiliar?
How does the author's choice of words draw our attention back to the main idea?

What type of text is this and what words help us decide?

Why do you think the author structured the text the way he/she did?

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Vocabulary Resources

Link to Marzano's 6 Step Process to Teaching Academic Vocabulary

Phase 3: What does the text mean?

Third Reading

We dig deeply on our third read. We look for connections to our lives, we use evidence from the text to support our ideas, and we begin to synthesis and evaluate. Typically, I focus on a different skill in this step of close reading. Some examples include: comparing and contrasting characters, people, and texts, making connections to other areas of curriculum, examining the author's tone and purpose, and examining how the text features help the reader.

TDQ examples for phase 3:

How are __________ (Rosa Parks) and __________ (Jackie Robinson) alike? How are they different? What words in the text support your thoughts?

How is this text the same as another? What evidence makes you think this?

What other people have we learned about that are similar to the ones discussed in the text?

What changes do you think happened as a result of these people and their actions?

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Phase 4: What does the text inspire me to do?

Culminating Projects and Activities

After completing our Phase 1-3 of close reading, students create a project or participate in activities that allow them to use the knowledge they've gained through the close read process. These activities include: student inquiry, student choice, attention to text, and transfer of knowledge to create something new.

Black History Month Close Read Project

After close reading selections about influential African Americans, students were asked to choose one person that they believed would make a good President. This also tied into our unit on the United States during which we did several close reads about Presidents and leadership. Students used their learning logs, our close read posters, and the annotated text to support them in creating campaign posters.
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Breaking News Reports

Students close read a chapter in James in the Giant Peach, which focused on a ship spotting the peach floating over the ocean. Students took what they had learned during our close read, using the text to inform their writing, and created a front page news report. They shared these orally with the class.
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Matilda Unit

After close reading several chapters in Matilda, students are allowed to choose a Phase 4 activity that requires them to use text evidence. In First Grade, this 1st quarter activity serves as an introduction to citing evidence, a skill that we use throughout the year during our close reading.

Individual Phase 4 Activities:

Group/whole class Phase 4 Activities:
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