Implementing Close Reading in Small Groups

Last week, I posted about implementing close reading during center work. This week, I’d love to share how I’ve also implemented close reading during small group time.

During Teacher Time (or Guided Reading) we work on learning how to read closely and carefully. While this is a hot term these days, it’s really nothing too new. It’s just teaching them how to be careful readers who focus on a purpose for reading each day. I also realized that it was not as scary as it sounded when we were first hit with the phrase. Close reading builds fluency and deepens students’ understanding of not just the material, but strategies they can use to break apart challenging reading material in general.

So here’s what I use and have up in my TPT store.

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I came up with this after lots of discussions with my team. It was a lot of trial and error, but we have found that this works. It’s an easy schedule to follow and it can be used with just about any resource you have available to you. The bundle includes an entire how-to guide, beyond what I include in this post.

So, let’s do this.

Day 1:

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On the first days, the kids read the given passages on their own. During this time, they use codes and annotations. In this picture, my kiddo can be seen using two codes. The first one is circling new words, and the second one is using a question mark and sticky note to ask herself questions as she reads. And the kids will do just about ANYTHING if you give them sticky notes. True fact.

I modeled a question with each group first.

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I explained to them that they need to stop when they realize they have a question. So we underline, put a question mark, and write a question that starts with something like “why” or “how”, or even a thought that begins with “I wonder…”

Day 2:

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On Day 2, I read the text to them. They follow along with their fingers and we stop at words they have circled OR words that I really want to focus on. Maybe a word lends itself a specific phonics lesson or decoding strategy. Maybe it’s crucial to the sentence. I have a few in mind, and then help them use strategies to figure out their circled words.

You can see this strategy in progress in a different article from a few weeks ago. My 3rd graders came up with these answers on their own after using strategies from the poster.

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Day 3:

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On Day 3, I had some groups partner read and some whisper read (you can see their whisper phones in hand, here) for the third time. Our learning goal had to do with comparing and contrasting, and we got lucky that the Time for Kids issue had two articles about similar topics. So we started off by drawing a venn diagram in our journals. After they were done reading, we filled out the venn diagram together, to compare/contrast the articles.

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Then, we turned our venn diagrams into paragraphs. We practiced using introduction sentences and text based evidence stems.

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Ok, so ignore the spelling. It’s not so cute. (But that’s what Word Work is for.) My concern was having them learn to use a graphic organizer, string sentences together, AND constantly refer back to the text. And we succeeded.

Day 4:

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I typed up Part A/Part B questions based on the text and allowed the kids time to complete it independently. We went over the questions together and discussed how life was easier after a fourth close read. It was really nice to see how surprised they were at their own confidence and ability to answer the questions.

Overall assessment? My third graders actually really enjoy knowing what their goal is each day. The structure is good for them, it keeps me focused, and it most definitely provides the rigor our standards require. It helps ensure that no matter what ability group I’m working with, I’m scaffolding to meet their needs.

So if you’re looking to start working on close reading in small groups, I totally encourage you to take the leap. Even if you don’t snag my posters. 🙂 Happy Weekend!

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