Today, I want to talk about close reading in kindergarten and first grade. I LOVE close reading with my students and I hope you do too! It makes me so sad when I hear primary and/or early childhood teachers complain that close reading isn’t appropriate for emergent readers. I could not possibly disagree more! I think the problem is that most of the training on close reading seems to focus on intermediate grades. So, I’m here today to share my Top 5 Tips for Close Reading with Emergent Readers!
Before you jump into close reading with primary students, ask yourself: what’s the point? Why is this important? How will this impact my students as readers?
Make sure that the learning goal is clear to both you and your students. If you are simply “going through the motions” it will be miserable for everyone involved! The purpose for close reading is to teach students that the text is a resource and that the answers to all of their questions can be found by “digging deeper” into the text.
Try to predict the vocabulary that will need to be explored, what questions students will have and what new concepts you can introduce with this particular book. I wait until students hit a “roadblock” with vocabulary to add the word to our exploration list… If they don’t seem to be hitting the roadblock with a word I know I want them to work on, I “set them up” with my own think aloud or discussion prompt. When I know what they will have difficulty with, I can better prepare to make the most of our close reading lesson.
I think the reason I love close reading in primary classrooms SO MUCH is probably because of the deep discussions that these young students are capable of having about literature. It gives me goose bumps every time!
I build lots and lots of conversation into my close reading plans. Over the course of a week, I usually have my students “turn and talk”, talk in small groups, and participate in whole class conversation circles. These discussions are so rich and give students so many opportunities to interact with the text, while developing their speaking and listening skills.
I also give my students a lot of visual support. This includes learning goals on our focus wall, pictures of conversation “talk moves”, visual sentence starters, “talking turn” cards and much, much more. These systems keep our learning (and my sanity) on track.
|“Talk Moves”- gestures and sentence starters|
|Our Guidelines for Success|
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The most important thing to remember about close reading with emergent readers is that it should be FUN! Choose rich, engaging books that you love! Share your excitement about the “special book” and teach your students to be text detectives. Plan your lessons carefully, but don’t forget the magic! Close reading with primary students should be exciting. It should nurture the curiosity of your young students while giving them the tools to find answers to their questions.
Kinder Close Reading
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