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What Should “Close Reading” Look Like in Elementary Classrooms?
In this article in The Reading Teacher, Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey (San Diego State University) report on what struck a group of elementary teachers as they observed close reading in secondary English, social studies, and science classrooms. The elementary teachers found that six features differed from the way they taught reading:
The elementary teachers then identified ways they believe close reading needs to be modified in elementary classrooms:
• More reading aloud by the teacher – This is particularly important in the lower grades to help students get the overall picture before getting into close reading.
• Judicious frontloading – The elementary teachers agreed that not all passages needed vocabulary and concepts explained before students started reading – only when it couldn’t be figured out while reading the text. One teacher said, “I think we have to get the students to do the heavy lifting now and part of that is to make sure that students are thinking about the text each time they read it.” Elementary teachers also agreed that they shouldn’t ask questions about students’ personal experiences until they had read closely and gained a firm foundation of new knowledge.
• Text-dependent questions – The elementary teachers realized that many of the questions they asked about a book or passage drew out students’ personal experiences and could be answered without reading the text. They came up with types of questions that would get students to pay close attention to the words on the page:
• Teaching annotation – Having students “read with a pencil” worried many of the elementary teachers; they didn’t want students to get in the habit of writing in classroom books. After much discussion, they agreed on how to phase in annotation, starting with wiki sticks to underline key ideas in big books to underlining major points and circling key words and phrases on a photocopy of a page in third grade to using arrows to make connections in sixth grade.
“Close Reading in Elementary Schools” by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey in The Reading Teacher, November 2012 (Vol. 66, #3, p. 179-188), http://bit.ly/SBPs7l; Fisher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Frey at email@example.com.
From the Marshall Memo #463