Back in November, I went to “Becoming Close Readers of Complex Text EL Institute” in
Atlanta, Georgia. The purpose of this institute was to model “Close Reading,” explain why it is important and demonstrate how to select appropriate complex texts for specific purposes. Close reading is when many different strategies are used to understand chunks of a complex text, which leads to the understanding of the whole text. In order to create lessons that include “Close Reading,” we as teachers, need to become “Close Readers” of complex texts ourselves.
The gap between where our students are and where they should be according to the Common Core Standards can be closed by exposing them to complex texts. Then they will be able to meet the reading demands of the workplace and/or secondary education. There is a rubric used to determine whether or not a text is complex. It includes the combination of four features: the meaning of the text, the text structure, the language features and the knowledge demands of the text.
Two Important Take-Aways for me as a Teacher of Struggling Readers:
Providing students with different reading abilities the same texts, but differentiating the questions and strategies according to what students need to access the text. Students with lower reading abilities are provided with lower order thinking types of questions that strategically become more difficult as students progress in their understanding of the text. While students of higher reading abilities are given questions that require higher order thinking.
Creating a classroom culture where students have the mental stamina to work through a problem is key to the successful use of “Close Reading” strategies. This is what the instructors called “Grappling.” Many tools for creating this culture were provided.