Jasper Roberts - Blog

Close Reading, again!

Hello? Anyone out there? Oh, you're still there? Good. Me too :)

Sorry for the hiatus, I hate it when work gets in the way of life, lol!

I'm just going to jump back in and talk about Close Reading today, as it is a strategy that I LOVE and we had a lot of success with it about a week ago. The students were VERY apprehensive about it at first, but once they got the hang of it, they realized just how easy it can be!

As part of our new literature series, Prentice Hall Literature, there is an awesome Introductory Unit that we use to teach students important strategies before we dive into the textbook. I'm loving how in-depth the process is, but it can get a little dry for the kiddos. To teach Close Reading I started by projecting the first page of the Hunger Games, which I just grabbed by doing a "Look Inside this Book" on Amazon.

I read it aloud to them, and told them to pretend they had never read The Hunger Games even though the majority of them had. I wish I had a picture from other periods, because we got even more in-depth, but this will do. We started by identifying any characters. They determined that Prim was probably a character, and that "I" is the narrator. They were careful to point out to me that we don't know her name is Katniss yet, so, yeah, my bad. :) We then looked for vocabulary, and they identified the reaping. After reading through the paragraph about her mother, they determined that she is stressed and probably has a hard life. Because the narrator has never seen her mother look any different, they determined she has probably never had an easy life. In the paragraph about the cat, they determined that Prim and the narrator are very different, Prim is probably young, and the narrator is a violent person (and possible psychopath). They also determined that the narrator provides for the family. It was amazing to see this first page of the book through a new light, and realize that we learn A LOT about the book in just the first three paragraphs.

Here is another one I just found from another class period, this time 8th grade:

Next we decided to try it with a non-fiction article from Scope magazine. We determined that in a non-fiction article we would identify subject, main idea, and details, rather than a character, plot, conflict, setting, etc... They underlined the problem and details, and then made connections to other animals that might have health problems similar to bulldogs. This was a GREAT article to use, and I believe it was the last Scope, and is available on their website to project.

I had students use this article for their assessment in my regular education classes with great success. They were asked to identify the following: Main Idea, Supporting Details, Vocabulary they don't know (and then define), Questions, and Comments and Connections.

For my ET classes, we used an article on Syria, which was INCREDIBLY challenging, but also rewarding. We did the first paragraph as a group identifying the same criteria as above, and then they were on their own. There was a lot more vocabulary for them to identify and define. There were also four guiding questions on the back that they had to answer.

Here is what they came up with! It may look like a mess, but I told them they could identify with color or markings, whatever they were most comfortable with!

Here is mine as a reference!

Finally, we had a Shared Inquiry discussion in the ET classes about the article and their guiding questions from the back. This scrambled mess is a visual representation of their class discussion. All groups were very successful with this, and students who had less knowledge about what was going on had discussions with parents at home to prepare, or watched the news. They also learned a lot from each other during the discussion. This is a 7th grade group below:

And another 7th grade group:

Close Reading is definitely a strategy that helps students "dig deeper" into the text, which is a major buzzword in education right now. They can then reference their text and share ideas with each other. Everyone is therefore prepared to have a student led discussion, with evidence they can use to support their reasoning!


  1. That's so interesting...I call it Annotating. I have the students annotate every time we read. When they read for homework, they annotate. When we read an article in class, we annotate. Great to know that others do this too!!! :) Keep up the GREAT work!

    Tales of Teaching in Heels

  2. I love your notes from the Shared Inquiry discussion. I was trained in this by Junior Great Books several years ago, and this is always how my notes looked too. I always find it super overwhelming to go back over my notes to assign a grade, so i just grade them on their preparation and set the expectation that they all participate in the discussion. How do you tackle the grading component?

  3. I love your post about close reading and the visual for your class discussion! I'm a pre-service teacher and we have been learning about motivating students to engage in the text that they are reading and we've also done similar discussions in class, tracing the communication from student to student. I'm excited to try out these methods in my student teaching placement this semester!

  4. I love your post about close reading. I am interested to know if you use this for your novel studies?


Thanks for stopping by! JW