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In an effort to provide multiple examples of close reading "in action," I came across this model and wanted to share it. In this short clip, Sunday Cummins nicely models a paragraph about frogs that is deceivingly simple at first glance. Notice that she demonstrates that students could likely come to a generic conclusion about the text, if not actively engaged with it through close reading. I think she does a nice job of (unintentionally) showing how old instruction differs from the concept of close reading, that is, looking at a text from a surface level as opposed to digging deeper using the word level-sentence level- paragraph level- text level-world level model that we discussed in class.
Similar to the previous video that I posted, I would caution viewers with respect to one key concept: close reading is not just about the questions you ask, but the intentional scaffolding that you build into each of those questions that build student's stamina and ability to effectively answer them in a sophisticated way. Even in this short clip, I can see multiple opportunities to physically pull the text apart using manipulatives and strategies such as a dialectical journal to ensure that kids are truly processing and retaining their understanding of the analysis process to draw their conclusions. Close reading inherently demands that students become physically involved with the text. When this process gets watered down to the extent that we simply revert to the old way of "read a passage, answer the questions, discuss, move on," we have lost our momentum in the effort to develop critical, analytical thinkers. We have to ensure that they have the tools and the process to work at the higher level.
This was NOT part of your homework for tonight, but I know that many of you are very interested in seeing close reading "in action." Consider taking some time to view the following video:
My personal reflection on this video is that there are some fabulous components. I do however, see many opportunities for continued improvement. For example, in the Omnivore's Dilemma lesson, she really gets at some of our work today around how to think about a tough question and then puts the students in charge of figuring out what needs to happen in order to answer the question. Great.....BUT....I don't see the majority of students that I teach being able to do this with a high rate of success, at least not initially. Instead, this is a perfect comfirmation of what we started talking about today and certainly a way to see that the teacher needs to give thought to the activities and requisite skills that kids need in order to answer that question. How could some of the instructional strategies that we discussed today be put into play in this lesson?