Don’t Bother with Close Reading Until . . .

This past weekend, I attended the Early Childhood Winter Conference in Houston.  It was geared to Pre-K through second grade teachers.  One of my favorite sessions was on close listening.  The session was designed for K/1/2 teachers on how to teach close listening: reading a text multiple times with a deeper focus each time.

Close reading is such a hot topic in upper grades, I loved seeing how the thinking was made transparent and accessible for kids at a younger age. (You can read a super article here from reading guru Timothy Shanahan about what close reading is, why it’s important, and how to guide students through the process.)
Close listening lays the foundation for close reading. Try close listening even with upper grades before moving on to close reading.

Close reading is asking kids to go deeper with text, and that’s hard.  Modeling the thinking necessary for close reading is something students are going to need to hear over and over again.  And then again and again and again no matter the age.

So, what’s the difference between teaching close listening and modeling close reading for our older students?  Not much except for our mindset.  When I model a concept for students, I anticipate that there is some foundation ready for me to “show” my thinking to, and then they’re ready to take it over.  When I teach students a concept, there’s a bigger commitment on my part to build that foundation.

One of the beliefs of Words Their Way is a step backward can be a step forward.  Removing the layer of reading allows us to build a firmer foundation by only asking students to focus only on the thinking this deeper level of comprehension requires.  So, take a step backward with close listening.
Close listening lays the foundation for close reading. Try close listening even with upper grades before moving on to close reading.

Choose a high quality literature text.  Read it the first time for the surface level understanding of the text.  For each future reading, use the tenants of close reading to return to just a portion of the text to go deeper with your students. Repeat a million times.

Hearing how in depth these teachers were going to develop their students' understanding of text and how it works made me realize that my older students need this just as much and that I need to sssslllooooowwww down the process of getting them there.

The reality is our students may not have many close listening experiences.  I sure wasn’t doing what these amazing ladies were talking about when I taught first and second grade.  Close reading is such a valuable strategy for readers to use, it deserves the laying of a very firm foundation.

Want to learn more about Close Reading? Here are some great posts for you from other bloggers:










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Close listening lays the foundation for close reading. Try close listening even with upper grades before moving on to close reading.



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