A Close Look at Close Reading: Teaching Students to Analyze Complex Texts, Grades K-5

A Close Look at Close Reading: Teaching Students to Analyze Complex Texts, Grades K-5

A Close Look at Close Reading: Teaching Students to Analyze Complex Texts, Grades K-5

A Close Look at Close Reading: Teaching Students to Analyze Complex Texts, Grades K-5


The Common Core State Standards have put close reading in the spotlight as never before. While elementary school teachers are certainly willing to teach students to closely read both literary and informational text, many are wondering what, exactly, this involves. Is there a process to follow? How is close reading different from guided reading or other common literacy practices? How do you prepare students to have their ability to analyze complex texts measured by Common Core assessments? Is it even possible for students in grades K-5 to read to learn when they're only just learning to read?Literacy experts Diane Lapp, Barbara Moss, Maria Grant, and Kelly Johnson answer these questions and more as they explain how to teach young learners to be close readers and how to make close reading a habit of practice in the elementary classroom. Informed by the authors' extensive field experience and enriched by dozens of real-life scenarios and downloadable tools and templates, this book explores • Text complexity and how to determine if a particular text is right for your learning purposes and your students. • The process and purpose of close reading in the elementary grades, with an emphasis on its role in developing the 21st century thinking, speaking, and writing skills essential for academic communication and required by the Common Core. • How to plan, teach, and manage close reading sessions across the academic disciplines, including the kinds of questions to ask and the kinds of support to provide. • How to assess close reading and help all students--regardless of linguistic, cultural, or academic background--connect deeply with what they read and derive meaning from a complex text. Equipping students with the tools and process of close reading sets them on the road to becoming analytical and critical thinkers--and empowered and independent learners. In this comprehensive resource, you'll find everything you need to start their journey.


Think about yourself as a reader. How well do you read? What do you read? Why do you read? Are you equally good at reading all types of materials?

Reading proficiency is developed over time. It involves having a purpose for reading and being able to adjust reading behaviors to accomplish that purpose. Inside or outside school, people read for different reasons. Often we read for sheer entertainment. At other times, we read to deeply analyze a position statement, to identify specific information, or to compare how different authors address the same topic. We might also read a text for a combination of reasons or approach it for different purposes at different times.

As Snow (n.d), reminds us, reading comprehension is complicated and multifaceted:

“Getting the gist” or “acquiring new knowledge” is too limited a definition
of successful comprehension. In some cases, successful comprehension
involves scanning quickly to find the bit of information one wants (as in
using the Internet) or reading in order to apply the information immedi
ately but then forget it (as in programming an electronic device). Surely we
want to include in our thinking about comprehension the capacity to get
absorbed and involved in the text (as when reading a page-turner), as well
as reacting critically (as when disagreeing with an editorial). Good readers
can do all of these, and can choose when each of these approaches to read
ing is appropriate. (para. 26)

Learning to become a skilled, purposeful reader requires the support of teachers who know how to create focused, personalized, varied, scaffolded, and motivating learning experiences (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000; Lapp & Fisher, 2009; Marinak & Gambrell, 2008). Such teachers know when to provide direct instruction, how to guide students’ developing understandings, and when to move to the side to support each student’s growing independence. Their instructional . . .

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