When referring to the increased rigor of common core state standards a reading strategy, close reading, is mentioned quite often. Close reading is a strategy used to teach in-depth analysis of text, a central focus of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It refers to the reading and rereading of a passage or text to fully examine and interpret what the author is trying to convey to his/her audience. With each read, children are expected to learn and understand more about the text.Children need to be taught how to analyze text. With time and practice, children can learn to recognize and use textural clues and structures to help them comprehend what they are reading.Criteria for Practicing Close Reading1. Determine Appropriate Text (based on reading level and text structure)Determine an appropriate leveled non-fiction, passage for your child that follows one of the four common text structures described below.Sequence Structure:
Purpose: Shows order of events or steps/procedures to accomplish a goal
Clue words: first, second, third, then, next, finallyCause and Effect Structure:
Purpose: Shows a causal relationship of why things happen and what happens as a result
Clue words: so, then, because, therefore, as a result, consequently
Compare and Contrast Structure:
Purpose: Explains how two or more people, things, events, or situations are similar and/or different.
Clue words: like, same, similar, both; differ, unlike, yet, but, insteadProblem and Solution Structure:
Purpose: Shows how problems can be or were solved.
Clue words: problem, issue, dilemma, answer, remedy, fix2. Set a Purpose for Reading:
For each reading, ask a text dependent question. Below are some basic questions to use with common text structures.1.What is the topic of the passage or text?
2. What does the author what you to understand about this topic?
3. How does the author explain this?As your child becomes proficient in close reading and his/her text level increases in complexity and length, ask more inference and in-depth questions based on the structure of the selected text.3. Have Your Child Provide Evidence From the Text
For each answer given, have your child locate textual evidence. Have your child highlight, circle, and underline clue words that prove his/her answer.Passage Example:Criteria 1: Non-fiction passage following compare and contrast text structurePeople often confuse frogs with toads. Both frogs and toads are amphibians. Like frogs, toads have short bodies and wide heads. They differ in their skin texture. Frogs have smooth, moist skin; whereas, toads have rough, dry skin. Unlike frogs, toads walk; they don’t hop.Criteria 2: Ask a text dependent question for each reading:1. What is the topic of the passage? What is it about?
2. What does the author want you to understand about this topic? What is the author’s purpose for writing the passage?
3. Show how this is explained?Criteria 3:Have your child provide evidence from the text to prove each answer1. Have your child highlight words in yellow (bold in this example) to “prove” what the passage is about.Answer: frogs and toads2. Have your child highlight words in green (italics in this example) to “prove” the author’s purpose for writing the passageAnswer: People often confuse them (frogs and toads)
3. Have your child underline the clue words that identify the text structureAnswer: compare and contrast – explaining the confusionPeople often confuse frogs with toads. Both frogs and toads are amphibians. Like frogs, toads have short bodies and wide heads. They differ in their skin texture. Frogs have smooth, moist skin; whereas, toads have rough, dry skin. Unlike frogs, toads walk; they don’t hop.Close reading is an effective strategy to improve your child’s comprehension. It is important that the strategy is practiced for all of the text structures: sequence, cause and effect, compare and contrast, and problem and solution.Caution – The purpose of this strategy is for children to learn how to analyze text and involves several reads. It is a directed strategy and should be used selectively, not with all books Children also need many opportunities to read for enjoyment on their independent level.