Reading in English
Close Reading Strategies
Close reading is a careful and purposeful reading and/or rereading of a text, using text-dependent questions to guide reading toward a specific purpose that the teacher sets at the beginning. The teacher can set a purpose to focus on an author’s use of language in order to enhance the contrastive analysis and cognate activities discussed in the previous section, or it some other area such as figurative language or aesthetic appreciation. Close reading can also involve different kinds of annotation and partner talk.
Key Word Notes
- In this strategy, reading material is chunked into four sections. After completing a chunk of reading, students circle three words that were most meaningful to them in the passage. They then take turns explaining their selections to another student. Students proceed in this way until they have read and discussed words from the four chunks of text. After completing the last chunk, students write a paragraph or more about their understanding of the reading material (Rothstein, 2007).
- Reader response theory (Rosenblatt, 1978) says that how a reader feels about his or her reading should guide how he or she responds to the text. No matter how we as teachers may want to push students into a cognitive expression about what they are reading, they first need to emote. And even when they are engaged in critical conversation, their ideas come from their emotions. We can build the emotional response into the reading and writing activities with journal prompts, anticipation guides, quick writes, student interviews, and similar strategies. In order to extend the response, Marzano suggests that we bring out and validate students’ emotional response and then help them systematically examine their response critically.
Questioning the Author
- In this strategy, students process any text by imagining themselves in conversation with the person who wrote it. Begin by having students brainstorm what they might want to ask the author based on the initial and most obvious features of the text—the title, author’s name, subheadings, illustrations, etc. Continue this process during reading, focusing on more detailed information from the text. After completing the reading, determine which questions can be answered by rereading portions of the text and which questions require additional research outside of the text. After students answer questions on their own, in a group, or with the class, they may consider sending additional unanswered questions to the author’s web page, blog, or email address, where possible (Beck, McKeown, Hamilton, & Kucan, 1997).