4 Stages of Close Reading

One of the biggest confusions my students show, no matter what their grade level, is how they are supposed to know how closely to read the text. We practice annotating our reading, but then I ask them to read for fun, or give them a time limit on their reading. And then the next day I ask them to read several passages extremely closely, and to synthesize new information based on their reading.

I broke Close Reading down into 4 stages to help my students out.

Casual or FUN Reading

This is reading that you do to enjoy reading. You are not looking for new information. You can skip words or even whole sentences, and you can skim or even read the book out of order.
These books may look like:
          *Comic Books
          *Fiction Books
          *Nonfiction Books you are interested in

Reading for an Answer

This is reading you do to find one or two simple answers. You might be looking to answer a question such as WHO, WHAT, WHEN, or WHERE. You may only read part of the passage, depending on what information you are looking for. You might read with a highlighter only to find specific information.
These books may look like:
          *Nonfiction books about a specific subject
          *Product Manuals
          *How-to Instructions
          *Blog Posts
          *Magazine Articles
          *Fiction books you want to understand more
          *Newspaper Articles
          *Directions for an Assignment

Detective Reading

This is reading to find more complex answers to more complex questions. You might be looking for the answers to questions such as HOW and WHY. You may read all of a passage, and will pay specific information to each sentence. You will look for specific word choices that deliver specific meaning, as well as word choices such as similes and metaphors. You will most likely read with a highlighter and pencil.
These books may look like:
         *Nonfiction books
         *Memoirs and Auto-Biographies
         *Primary Documents (letters, journals, maps, annotations, etc)
         *Secondary Documents (what other people have said about an event they did not witness based on their research)

Archaeologist Reading

This is reading to find complex answers when you don't even always know the questions. You might be researching a specific topic using several different sources, or you might be looking for facts to support your synthesis of new information into a Secondary Document of which you are the author. You will read every word several times, and will notice every word choice, syntax choice, etc. You will always read with a highlighter, pencil, and notebook.
These books may look like:
         *Primary Documents (letters, journals, maps, annotations, etc.)
         *Secondary Documents (what other people have said about an event they did not witness based on their own research)

These 4 Stages have not only helped my students to focus their skills during a Close Reading assignment, they have helped the entire classroom (including myself) to think about how we plan to read and take notes on every text we pick up.


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