Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Close Reading for K-2

I've spent some time this summer thinking about how I am going to fit close reading activities into my first grade classroom, in addition to teaching more science this year. First of all, I had to step back and ask myself: what does close reading for young, beginning readers mean and what strategy/technique and I going to use to employ them to read closely? When trying to decide what is best for my students, I try to determine how I would have learned the skill or obtained the information as a child (did it work?), and/or how would I do it now as an adult.

I immediately thought back to my high school and college days. I am a visual learner, for sure. I love to dog ear my text book pages, slap a sticky note in there, highlight, make notes in the side margins, etc. I obtained information - especially complex information - through reading, re-reading, summarizing, and discussion (for me, it was mostly listening to other people discuss and analyze, and then I formed my own opinions or conclusions). I was 'digging deep' into texts before 'digging deep' was a buzzword in academia. How else are you supposed to understand Shakespeare and Beowulf as a non-genius, young adult, who loved literature but found it sounding like a foreign language at some point? Well, you take it apart piece by piece, you make notes, drawings, etc…..any important marks that make the text meaningful so you can remember and enjoy it more! 

My district has done some "mark it up"/close reading professional development in the past for older students, and I love the concept….because that's how I learned as a student, and for me, it worked. It may have taken me a couple years to figure out how I can make those strategies work for young, beginning readers - but I think I've got it!

I've come to decide that there are multiple ways that a close reading can be done; there is no one right way. For older or experienced students, marking up text with things like "LOL", question marks, stars for important information, little eyeballs for visualizing, etc. can be a little difficult and stray the reader from the text. I think these 'think marks' are a great tool to incorporate if your students are ready. I can see using them with my students, even in first grade, to a degree! There's a great FREEBIE poster from Just a Primary Girl

 For our young students, not only do they have to read the text, but comprehend it, and be able to pull out information from the text as evidence to support their thinking. I'm pretty sure I didn't do that until high school, and here I am asking 6 and 7 year olds to do it. So….that being said, what is the best way that I feel my students will digest lots of non-fiction and gain a lot of reading practice?

Well, we already read closely and do lots of "I Spy" and hide and seek techniques when working on our sight words. We are always looking for them in text and highlighting our focus words when we see them, mostly in fiction text. I decided to take that technique to a new level when working with non-fiction text. Here's a sample: 

I have designed my close reading packs to bring non-fiction text to early elementary students so they can read, re-read, and mark the text through guided instruction! This could even be used as independent work for higher readers. 

There are two levels of text, with the lower level containing concise information, less words, and a larger font for the ease of tracking for those emergent readers. The higher level is packed with information and more difficult vocabulary words. HOWEVER, the information given is not compromised and the concepts that students search for in the text are the same! Overall, all students will be learning the same concepts but at different levels, which is the goal with differentiation - as we all know. The articles are only one page so that early elementary students do not have to flip back and forth among pages in a book searching for information. 

With engaging text about animals, students will enjoy this 'hide and seek' approach to reading for information. Important information is embedded in these texts, and students just need to find it! They are asked to mark it up by highlighting, circling, underlining, putting shapes or smiley faces next to specific facts, searching for answers to fill in the blank, understanding the meaning of vocabulary words etc. 

On top of that, they are given graphic organizers and even writing responses where they are asked for form opinions and think critically about real world issues. If you want to check them out, click on the photos below! 

I am also looking forward to getting the students warmed-up with close reading strategies by using this great resource utilizing nursery rhymes. What a great idea! I am going to add a little "mark it up" technique to these nursery rhymes from Teaching in High Heels!  

So---that's where I am at with that!