I am finalizing my presentation for the Washington Educators’ Conference. This year I will be presenting during the fourth concurrent session: Literacy-Rich Vocabulary. I think there was a bit of a mistake with the title as I will be presenting about close reading and the Common Core. I think they used last year’s title, or something similar, but I am looking forward to presenting.
I will be previewing various aspects of close reading and strategies to use in the classroom. I thought I would share one of the activities I will be talking about below. I title the activity: Piecing the Close Read Puzzle Together
A shorter text, no larger than a paragraph or two, is needed for this activity. The text is enlarged so each individual sentence can be cut creating puzzle strips. For longer sentences, sentences can be split into two. Students receive an envelope of paper strips and told to put the text in order. Once the text has been put in order, students read the text in their table groups. Students identify a sentence that highlights the overall tone or mood of the text or provides a strong inference. Each group brings the highlighted sentence and places it on a larger piece of paper at the front of the room. Groups could also cut a single word or phrase from the sentence and bring it to the front of the room. Students participate in a whole-class discussion focusing on similarities and why groups chose the highlighted pieces of text as important slices of the overall text.
One of the points of the activity is to provide students with the sense of discovery along with a focus on the author’s language. Students are actively involved and activities like this one break up the monotony of the basic close read activity being performed over and over again.