I have read, had, listened to, and led various discussions regarding the process of close reading. In fact, I’m going to lead a session tomorrow morning on the topic. To some, close reading can be tedious to teach and have students experience; however, I find it fascinating to watch students go through the process. When a short text of a paragraph or two, limited to one page, is selected, the effort students put forth to analyze the text can really illustrate the power of words. With that said, I sometimes get a groan from my students when I announce, quite excitedly, that we are going to engage in a close reading of a text. So, with my practice of adding movement to my classroom, I have developed several ways to “jazz up” the close read experience by having students get up out of their seats during the process of close reading. I am including one of the activities I will be highlighting during my training tomorrow. It is a fairly simple activity that students love because they get to analyze the text in more than one way visually in groups and as a whole class. Plus, the process allows me to listen to the discussions students have to get a better understanding of how various students are understanding more complex texts.
Close Read Sort and Stick
Each student receives a short stack of sticky notes. Individually, students read the selected close read text. While students are reading, they write key words or phrases from the text on the sticky notes provided. When each student has finished the reading task, students share their answers in groups of four. Poster papers with four categories are placed around the room: tone, inferences, figurative language, and theme (relationship to characters, setting, and plot). Groups discuss the sticky notes written by each member and determine the category for each word. The sticky notes are then placed on the large posters. After each group sorts the words, the class discusses the placement of the words and reposition words if needed.