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Close Reading in the Elementary Grades
(Originally titled “Closing in on Close Reading)
In this Educational Leadership article, Nancy Boyles (Southern Connecticut University) suggests ways to bring “close reading” – a major theme in the Common Core State Standards – to the elementary grades. “Essentially, close reading means reading to uncover layers of meaning that lead to deep comprehension,” she says. Boyles is critical of the “ho-hum” text-dependent questions suggested by David Coleman and his colleagues in their Student Achievement Partners handbook. All of the questions have a right answer and none of them will generate real discussion, she says.
Boyles urges teachers to take students beyond the text and ask deeper questions that they can apply to other texts on their own:
“If students take time to ask themselves these questions while reading and become skillful at answering them, there’ll be less need for the teacher to do all the asking,” she says. “For this to happen, we must develop students’ capacity to observe and analyze.” Delving deeper, she suggests getting students to ask themselves questions like these:
“Students who learn to ask themselves such questions are reading with the discerning eye of a careful reader,” says Boyles. The next step is to look at passages with the eye of a writer, analyzing:
From the Marshall Memo #464