5 Tips - How to Do Close Reading with Emergent Readers

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Today I am joining my girls from The Reading Crew to bring you THE most amazing blog posts and FREEBIES!
I am sure that if you are reading this article you are probably a teacher in the primary grades. More than likely, the majority of your readers are at the emergent level of reading... and this means that you are providing your students with guided reading instruction that is going to move them from "learning to read" to "reading to learn." One of the most effective ways to cross this bridge is through close reading. I blogged about the differences between guided reading and close reading HERE!


Unlike guided reading, close reading is an instructional routine that allows you to guide your students in their understanding of complex text. In order for emergent readers to be able to unveil and truly understand complex text, close reads should be done over multiple readings and over multiple instructional lessons.
Because complex text is not meant to be entirely accessible for emergent readers, you cannot expect your primary students to read the text with 100% accuracy.
That's right! YOU, the teacher, will be reading the text aloud if your students are unable to read it accurately.
The goal of a close reading activity is not to learn how to use word-attack strategies, the goal is to uncover levels of meaning at the literal, structural, and inferential levels.


I generally conduct close readings with my higher readers. I prioritize in terms of instructional approaches and routines in order to meet my students' needs. I use the majority of my planning time in designing activities that are relevant, targeted, and fun. But how about text selection? This is a graphic that I created to show you my thought process when choosing close reading pasages:


I hope you are not under the misconception that close reading in the primary grades is less rigorous, or watered-down, than close reading with older students.
Far from the truth! If nothing else, I could argue the exact opposite.
Since true close reading goes beyond "eyes-on-print", I always think that close reading gives my students the opportunity to explore ideas and structures more deeply. 
Like WAY more!
And since I am the one doing the reading, and they are attentively listening, I feel as if they are able to be free from decoding They are actually able to access grade level context through complex text in a very authentic manner. In other words, a close reading routine will always allow me to conduct a read-aloud with my students. 

You can get these close reading brochures in my TPT store or by clicking HERE!


A couple of years ago I was so afraid of annotation marks. This is when I taught first grade. I always kept wondering how in the world would my emergent writers get to annotate on the side of the text.
These were the obstacles that I , myself, put in head without even trying first:
  • My emergent writers will take FOR-E-VER in getting an annotation down on paper.
  • My emergent writers will start asking the typical: 'how do you spell _____?"
  • My emergent writers are not developmentally ready to write in tiny patterns that will fit on the side of the paper.
And in all honesty... I was so wrong.
I found a way around:
  • I had my students use words like: WOW, OMG, LOL, YUCK, UGH, etc.  Which you might think is probably not best practice. But it certainly was perfectly appropriate for my students to focus on their thinking and understanding of the text, rather than on the spelling of words.
  • I had my emergent writers draw on the side of the paper as well. If there is a vocabulary word that they have inferred using context clues, I was always eager to see them "show" me their thinking.
This is an example:

You can get these brochures from my TPT store or by clicking HERE!

And the bottom line is, annotations are a way to help our students interact with the text. At my school, for example, there was a teacher that would use Wikki Stix to underline the text. I though that was such a creative, fun, and hands-on- way to do annotations.  
If you are not teaching your students to annotate, you should totally give it a try. You will be providing your students with the  foundational steps to the more formal annotations that they will be required to do in the upper grades.

I keep all my annotation goodies like this:


Close reading matters because it builds reading strength. Research shows that during your instructional day, you should be spending some time  building reading stamina AND reading strength.
Also, close reading allows to get more bang for your buck.
And by buck I mean instructional time.
These are some reasons why:
  • Close reading gives you ample opportunity to model how to read with fluency and expression.
  • Close reading leads your students to uncover deeper levels of meaning with the three phases of close reading. The phases are: what does the text say? How does the text work? and What does the text mean? Now, I don't consider these phases "the steps in a close reading lesson," rather, they help me organize and plan for text-dependent and text-specific questions.
  • Speaking of... Text-specific and text- dependent questions are KING when it comes to close reading. They should be done orally and in writing. If you are conducting a close reading lesson and your students are silent and you are the only one talking, then you are NOT really doing close reading. You are just simply helping them answer a worksheet. Close reading  is so much more than that. Close reading is interactive, full of thoughts, emotions, and questions. Students should be learning from each other, and each question MUST take them back into the text. I will be blogging some more about this next month.
  • Close reading, allows you to target a handful of reading, writing, listening, and speaking standards... with only ONE passage! 
  • Close reading is plain good teaching... and good teaching will always lead to amazing test results.
 I also did a FB live on this topic, you may watch it HERE!

You can download a  FREE sample of these brochures by clicking HERE!
or HERE!!


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