Jasper Roberts - Blog

Falling in Love With Close Reading (Giveaway!)

Trust me when I say...you need to read to the end of this post in order to check out this giveaway! :)

But first...

My 8th grade students are still working through the Walt Whitman Introductory unit, and I'm loving the results! I showed you last week how we started off close reading together "O Me! O Life!" and created the keys to use for Close Reading.

These are available now at TpT!

Here is how the second day of modeling in class looked, where we finished up Plot, Setting, Connections, and Theme.

Notice how even comments like "World War Z" get written down, because it's their connection. The student said that the crammed cities and towns reminded him of that movie, so if they can explain it, and it helps them connect to the text, we should write it down. Their homework Tuesday night was to go home and close read "O Captain! My Captain!" on their own. Now- almost EVERY student did this, and those that didn't had started but didn't finish. I was pretty impressed. Out of my 40+ students I only had 3 No Assignment Forms turned in for this one. 

I told students they did not have to write down the key this time (box in corner) because we had just written it on the previous pages. Some kids used it, and others didn't. I like the way they are using a lot of color this year to identify, and writing more in the margin than they did in the past.
This student is very neat and precise with close reading, and did choose to write in the key for the second piece they did by themselves. I was most impressed with their identification of plot within a poem for both pieces. When I asked, where is the point in "O Me! O Life!" where something happens that can never "unhappen" they said, "The answer! Once you know an answer, you can't un-know it."
More examples...
-I don't know what "facts" are doing in a fiction close reading, but this is why we model. I like that this student felt it was important to identify information about the story as "facts".
More examples following (they all wanted me to take a picture of theirs, so I can't not put them in this post! Plus, they were all good!)

After we checked in the close reading, we moved on to the next page in their ISN to review Types of Questions from last year. This is something in our Pearson book that I loved!
We discussed how, as the questions continue, they get progressively more difficult. 

#1 questions are "easy" questions that they can find just by looking at the text or inferencing. 
Example Question: "Who is one of the main characters in The Little Prince?" Students said "The Little Prince" even if they hadn't read it, because they could inference that he was probably one of the main characters. 

#2 questions are also fairly easy, but we look at the outline of the poem and how it's written rather than what is written.
Example Question 1: "What form of poetry does Dr. Seuss usually use for writing?" Answer: Rhyming.
Example Question 2: "What form of meter does Shakespeare utilize in writing?" Answer: Iambic Pentameter.

#3 questions are like our Shared Inquiry questions. They require evidence from the text, and support for the evidence. There can be multiple answers, or the answer requires more thought.

Example Question: Which theme is most prevalent in the novel Night?

Once this was done, I assigned partners and students had to write two questions for each type with their partner. We finished this in about 20-25 minutes with me walking around and helping. Students had to use BOTH poems in their #3 question. For their other questions, they each had to be about one of the poems, and they couldn't be the same question. They also did not need to answer their own questions.

I loved seeing their process as they went through this, remembering from last year how they formulated these questions.

When they finished, we shared our #3 questions and decided which ones we liked best. This was a moment of truth for me, because I always formulate shared inquiry questions ahead of time, and I was relying on them coming up with awesome questions. They did not disappoint! Check out what their questions ended up being and you be the judge!

My first group of the day:
Group #1: Which of the two poems has a meaning that is more relevant to modern society?

Group #2: Based on the two poems, what can you infer about Walt Whitman’s general outlook on life?

Second group of the day:
Group #1: Identify the theme of each poem. How are the themes of each poem alike and different?

Group #2: What events in modern history would influence Walt Whitman if he was alive and writing today? What tone does Walt Whitman use in both poems, and would he still have the same tone to his poetry today?

Students started prepping for their shared inquiry, and will get two days in class this time. Then each group will have a class period to discuss, while the other group does the close reading for non-fiction.

So...in honor of my love of close reading AND fall, I'm doing a giveaway!!

The winner will receive a $10 Starbucks gift card, my favorite new fall candle "Pumpkin Pie Diner" by Glade, a copy of Readicide by Kelly Gallagher, and a travel mug!
*I was not reimbursed or compensated for these prizes, I just wanted to share my fall faves with you! :)

Here's how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends Thursday, Happy Labor Day!


  1. Pumpkin Spice Latte!

    As a new Social Studies teacher, I am truly loving close reading!!

  2. I love cinnamon and spice scents during the fall! Thanks for all you share, Jen!

  3. It is easier to say what I DON'T love about fall! I hate that it ends! Leaves, cool weather, pumpkins, FOOTBALL, festivals, all of it!

  4. I love sweaters. scarves, and jeans. I also love when my nose gets a little cold and when my hair gets a little cold and blows across my face when it's windy :)

    Weird answers! Love your giveaway! And of course, you've inspired me to attempt a close reading with my 6th graders.

  5. I love the cooler weather once we get it in Florida. I love your ideas and plan on using quite a few this year!

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  7. Jen, I've been stalking your blog for a while and have loved everything that you share. I'm a 15 year ELA veteran teacher and am always looking for new ways to get my students engaged in learning. I've been using ISN for several years but am always looking for new ideas to use with it.
    This year my district is implementing the CCSS and your blog has helped me so much! I LOVE Kelly Gallagher (I've picked up all the resources you recommended...Amazon LOVES me) and am learning so much! I can't wait to start close reading with my students when we head back from our fair break on the 9th!
    As for fall, I LOVE just about everything about it, from the cooler temps. the beautiful colors, the smells and the clothing; it's my favorite time of year!
    (Sorry about the double post; I'm having technical difficulty this morning...lol)

  8. I love everything about Fall! I'm a a Fall junky! Hoodies, apple cider and football equal the perfect fall day!

  9. For me, my love of Fall starts with my birthday on September 18 -- I always get new fall clothes like sweaters, jeans, dresses and scarves. Thanks for sharing all of your great ideas, Jen! I am ready to jump into close reading with my 7th and 8th graders this year...

  10. You've done it again! Thanks for all the pics of the close reading integrating the IN. I'm very inspired and can't wait to try the strategies you shared!

  11. My favorite thing about fall is pumpkin pie. When I was pregnant I ate it year round. I love everything about this post!

    Kovescence of the Mind

  12. Crockpot soups when I get home from school! And pumpkin everything

  13. I love the color change of the leaves in the fall, scarves, boots, chilly days that turn into chillier nights, sweatshirts w/shorts, flannel pj's, pumpkin everything!

  14. That looks like a great lesson! The kids really made some connections. I have got to start calling it close reading because I still call it annotation :/ Excited for your giveaway!
    Tales of Teaching in Heels

  15. I love fall colors and cooler days. Not melting into a puddle when I walk to the park with the kiddos.

  16. COLD WEATHER!! :)


  17. I love all things fall: pumpkin everything, boots, hoodies and jeans, scarves, football, pretty colors outside...

  18. Fall is all about crunching leaves, comfy sweatshirts, and everything pumpkin. I have been teaching 21 years, and I love all the new ideas you bring to the table with this blog!

  19. My birthday and my children's birthdays! I found your blog on Pinterest and have to say it is wonderful!

  20. Thanks for all the great materials! I can't wait to share them with my collegues and kids!!!

  21. I love reading your blog! It gives me so many great ideas and it's really great to see how other middle school teachers do their thing. Plus, we both love theatre!

  22. Oh and my favourite thing about fall is my birthday and pumpkin spice lattes!

  23. I love the weather!

  24. I absolutely LOVE Kelly Gallagher

  25. Cooler weather and all things pumpkin!

  26. Love the close reading posters! I will have to try that!

  27. BTW I love pumpkin flavored anything!

  28. My favorite thing about fall is going to the apple orchard and watching the leaves slowly turn.

  29. As a new teacher your blog is very inspiring. Also I LOVE fall because of the cooler weather, Thanksgiving, and my wedding anniversary.

  30. Love fall smells and candles! My fav is "Leaves" by Bath and Body Works!

  31. My favorite thing about fall is the building of leaf piles with my kids and watching them have so much fun playing in them.


Thanks for stopping by! JW