Have You Fallen in Love With Close Reading?

Well friends we've reached the end. Our time has come to a close. Summer is ending, or if you are like me, it has ended. My summer ended three weeks ago. I've already had 2 full weeks back of with my students. Wow.



And so let's dig in to the last chapter. (no pun intended - get it? close reading - dig in/dig deep. No one. Just me being super cheesy on a Saturday night? Okay, well hopefully someone will humor me. ;)





As with anything in education, we are working towards a goal. Close reading, like many other things in the classroom these days, is that we equip students with the skills needed to 'engage deeply in a text, to admire an author's work, and to critical and passionate readers' (Lehman and Roberts, 119). Hopefully, when done correctly our students will not nee us to direct them through this process. 

I'm not going to go on and on. The chapter is short. It's a recap. Remember to look through lenses, find patterns. Talk less, read more. Enjoy the bad ideas as well as the good. Also, remember that if you are a lower grades teacher you might want to start small. Pick one idea and go from there. 

I also have a 'close reading' pinterest board. There are some anchor charts, printables, and other great ideas there. 

I'm a 2nd grade teacher an this takes time. As I enter the third week of school this is not something I have started. I have yet to assess their levels. We are still building our workshop. I will implement it however. I did last year and I loved it. Please be sure to look at all the other posts in this series that are labeled 'close reading' and 'falling in love with close reading'. Be sure to check out everyone else's posts and also enter for a chance to win a gift card to all of our TpT stores as well as a copy of the book!


Falling in Love with Comparing Different Texts


I may have missed last week's chapter 5, but I am back for this week's chapter 6 with Dianna at Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching's book study on Falling in Love with Close Reading. Have y'all been enjoying it? I have! In fact, last week was my first full week back with my students and I was constantly thinking about all the great things I have learned and how I will implement them with my students. 




1. In reading chapters 5 and 6 about points of view and comparing texts I found myself thinking a lot about how I teach about Author's Purpose (P.I.E.) but I kept wanting to move beyond that. After all, close reading is about digging deep and the PIE method seems so surface level to me. 

What I found interesting in chapter 6 is that when talking about comparing texts it really goes into actually comparing the pieces of texts. For example, We might compare a specific character trait of  two different character traits from two different novels. The example of the character of Ivan's bravery (from The One and Only Ivan) to that of Auggie's (Wonder). You may take two novels by the same author and compare their use of poetry in each. 

Again, you will use the same skills of reading through a lens (characters, subjects, themes, ideas, settings, authors), looking for a pattern (text evidence, word choice, structure, point of view), and using that pattern to develop of new understanding. 

The book recommends using sitcoms to engage students in this lesson. Show a clip, having them watch each clip through a lens (are they watching about friends, family? You provide the lens). Here's my thing - while I think this is an AWESOME idea - do kids watch sitcoms anymore? Are there sitcoms? When I was growing up it would have been The Cosby Show all the way or maybe Full House. But are there shows like that around? Do I need to go Nick Jr. and The Disney Family route? I suppose that is also a sign of the times, huh? They suggest shows like Modern Family and Malcolm in the Middle. I bet for older grades those are perfect. 

Also, in order for this to work, it is important that your students read a lot of books so that they have a lot of background to pull information from. 

2. While I know we have been sharing what we have learned from this book and from the bloggers in this book study, I would be remiss if I did not mention a few other close reading resources:
Please be sure to also check out the book Notice and Note. I was given it at a professional development session last year and we dug into that book. It was my first work with close reading. I use the signposts in my classroom. 

Also, in addition to many of the freebies found along this book study by the bloggers participating, Lyndsay's blog and resources are great and a wonderful starting point. 

Go see everyone else's post. Don't forget to enter the raffle. Come back next week for our final week and giveaway!


As Far As They See They Can Offer No Explanation

A month ago I was able to choose the July selection for Ramona Recommend's Book Club. The main book for the primary grades I chose was Wonder. Ever since the announcement I have received emails, comments on my blog, seen products made on TpT, seen boards on Pinterest, and seen comments all over Instagram about the book Wonder - about why people loved the book, about how the book has inspired, about what from the book resonated with them.

However, I have yet to share my reasons. Our month of this book club selection came to a close this past week. However, I didn't feel I could let it end without saying anything at all. And so, without further ado:



WHY I CHOSE WONDER

It was the end of my sophomore year of high school. There I sat with my mom in the principal's office. I was not in trouble. I was returning from having been away from school for three weeks. I had been out of the country, with my principal's permission but prior to returning to class she wanted to see me. Except, returning to class wasn't as easy as we thought it would be. And so there we sat, with me in tears. I didn't want to be there. I was 16 years old and I had just spent weeks traveling through concentration camps in Poland with a youth group (I'm pretty sure that was a learning experience that I would not have gained sitting in a classroom). I had been to Majdanek, Treblinka, Auschwitz, and Birkenau to name a few. During the Holocaust the march from Auschwitz to Birkenau had been the March to Death. On my trip it had been our March of the Living. Myself, along with 7,000 other Jewish teenagers from all over the world came together on Holocaust Remembrance Day and made this walk. The entire trip I was on was called The March of the Living and it truly was a once in a lifetime experience. 

This walk, this day, this trip is something that I will never forget - that's the point, to never forget what had come before, so we don't repeat it. It was 16 years ago and I remember everything - some specific pieces - so very vividly.  I remember having visited one spot in Poland one day and it being fine, then when we returned the next day a red swastika had been spray painted there. I remember being surprised that intolerance still existed. I remember being saddened that some of the concentration camps could have been up and running again within 48 hours if someone wanted them to be. 

I experienced and felt all of this at the age of 16 and then I was supposed to just come home and sit in a classroom for four more weeks of school. It was hard. I didn't really care about the friendship cliques that existed in high school upon my return. If you wanted to be nice to me, fine. If you didn't, fine. 


And then, with one week left of school, another tragedy happened in our community. Two friends (teenagers, juniors at my school) were waiting outside the dog groomer for their dog to be ready. While they were waiting, they were car-jacked. They were driven 45 minutes away and taken out of the car. One boy, who was white, was told to start walking. Then he was shot. He was 17 years old and had just taken his SATs that day. His name was Louis. The other boy was then told to start walking. Instead of walking, Dakarai started running, when they shot at him, they only got his arm. With a shot in his arm and knowing his friend was gone, he just kept running. He ran until he found another road. He ran until he found help. He, too, had just taken his SATs that morning. I was in my parents room that night when I heard the news. Louis would not be in my chemistry class the next morning. And sure enough, where once there was a messy desk, Louis' seat had been left nice and neat for him. No one said anything. 

Within that final month of my sophomore year of high school, I had witnessed what it was like when people in my religion were treated and harmed because of who they were, I had witnessed what it was like to be treated differently because of my religion, and I had witnessed what it was like to have a person in my community killed because of who he was and the kind of car he drove. 
___________________________________________________________________________________

My life changed that spring. I grew up - perhaps before others around me were ready to. 

To me it does not matter who you are or where you come from, you do not treat people differently. You treat people with respect. 

One of the biggest rules I have and have enforced since the moment I set foot into a classroom involves the word 'hate'. We do not say it - at all! It does not matter to me if you are saying you hate a person or you hate a food, you may not use the word hate. There are other ways to say you don't like something. It is as simple as that - I don't like this, I do not care for that, etc. These conversations can be had with even the youngest of children. I explain it simply, the word hate hurts feelings. When you have older students, you can explain it a tad more in depth, hate has caused a lot of problems. As the teacher, you decide how far you want to take it. 

However, I decided from the moment I had power in a classroom that would be a change I made - even the smallest amount of hate can cause the smallest of problems. In just a month of my life look how much 'hate' impacted my life - there were people who hated a religion, people who had so much hate they felt the need to kill, and while I wasn't hurt directly, it did directly impact me. My life was impacted. My life was touched in some way. 



Then I read Wonder. I had no idea what it was about. But here's the bottom line - Treat people with kindness. Don't treat people differently, no matter who they are, no matter where they are from, no matter what they look like. 

Ah, this was the same message I had learned 16 years ago. Only now, an incredible author had put that message into a book that students can understand. Please. Read it. Read it with your students, your children, yourself. Then go spread the message. The message is simple. It's kindness. 

So many great links to other blogs have been shared with me. I am linking them below. I hope you will share. Thanks for reading my story.  





Falling in Love with Text Structures - Chapter 4

 It's week 4 in our Close Reading book study and I'm back, linking up with Diana at Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching.





1. Figure 4.2 refers to a chart. It is the same type of chart that has been shown in every chapter of this book with the process: Reading through lenses, Use lenses to find patterns, use patterns to develop a new understanding of the text.
What changes in the chart each time is what we are reading for (i.e. word choice, nonfiction, fiction, and in this case, structure). In terms of how this may compare to my current instruction - I found this very similar to teaching about author's purpose. However, this appears to take it a step further. Instead of just determining if the author wrote this to persuade, inform, or entertain, what techniques did the author use? I believe that in order to look for this in close reading you need to also be able to understand this in writing - themes, central ideas, a character's development. I see them being very much related. I think students need a foundation of these terms before they can begin to tackle this piece of close reading. 

2. Again, as a lower (or primary) grades teacher close reading is new(er) for me. I think this made me realize there is a lot of this I don't do with my students but that doesn't mean they aren't capable. These are terms and concepts we touch upon, why not go just a tad bit further with them? It can only help our students in the future!


Falling in Love with Words - Chapter 3


I'm back this week, linking up with Dianna at Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching.







1. Do you have any ah-has, questions, comments about this chapter?
This chapter was a lot of what I expected in terms of the words we choose. However, it was more about looking at the words authors choose in order to relay information or tell a story. The chapter suggests beginning this lesson with an advertisement and looking at the words in an ad to get the students to weed out the important. I thought this also could be done in lower grades perhaps with the lyrics of a popular song they love. This reminded me a lot about how we think and teach about Author's Purpose. I thought it would be great to tie these lessons in together. 

2. What is different from how you have taught close reading to students?
In all honesty, I am not an expert, nor have I fully taught this for an entire year. I started mid-year last year with one high reading group. This year I would love to be more thorough in my practice. I, myself, am a big word person. I love quotes and try to hang them around the room. In terms of needing to analyze the words or phrases, I think it is a challenge to some but it can be a lot of fun. 

The most important thing to remember is this: "No longer are we simply helping students find information, we are now in the position of empowering them with the vital habits of carefully sifting through all the sources that vie for their attention." (Lehman & Roberts, pg. 32)

We are not giving students the answer or the easy way out. We are teaching them how to find the answers. Much like this well known quote: 


Happy reading. Be sure to enter our giveaway and follow these other great bloggers to find out what they thought of chapter 3. 



Two for Tuesday


Happy Tuesday. I'm linking up with the Teaching Tribune for Two for Tuesday.
I'm very passionate about teaching science and making it as hands on as possible. I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed putting them all together.



I've marked my two newest products down 50%.

The first one is my Phase of the Moon Match Up.


This set of vocabulary cards contains 3 differentiated versions so you can pick and choose for the needs of your students. Each set (1 page of the names of the phases and 1 page of definitions) also contains a printer-friendly black and white set. You can use these cards to play memory, as a simple matching game, or as vocabulary cards for an interactive notebook. 


The other product is my interactive notebooking for the phases of the moon, These are the Phases of the Moon!


This is an interactive notebook for science about the phases of the moon. All pieces in this are differentiated to meet the various needs of the students in your class. 

For the front of the flipbook there are 4 options: 
1. The flaps have both the name of the moon phase and its image. 
2. The flaps have only the images of the moon phases. 
3. The flaps have only the names of the moon phases so your students can draw their own image. 
4. The flaps are blank. You can use the labels from the following page to have your students label the phases in order - or - you can have your students write and draw the names and images. 

For the inside of the flipbook there are 3 options:
1. The inside flaps have only the definition of what each phase is. Your students can draw an image if you'd like for them to. 
2. The inside flaps have both an image of the phase and its definition. 
3. There is a blank page for inside flaps so your students can write their own definitions. *You may not need this page if you want to glue the top page down and have students write directly in their notebook. Otherwise this page would need to be glued down first and then glue the top page on top of the wide strip for the bottom page. 

There are challenge pages with 3 options (these pages have everything mixed up and out of order): *This could make a fun assessment. 
1. There is a page that has the definitions with the images but they are mixed up and put of order. 
2. There is a page that has only the definitions and they are out of order. 
3.There is a page with the labels for the front that are mixed up and out of order. 



I hope everyone is having a great day. Go to The Teaching Tribune to check out all the other products that are on sale today! There are some talented bloggers and teachers. 

Falling in Love (with Reading Closely) and a freebie




Welcome back! It's another week of joining in with Dianna at Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching. Last week we looked at the basics of Close Reading and what it might look like. This week in Chapter 2 we get to dig in a little more about the process and how to proceed. 




I know a lot of people in this book study were questioning how this might look in a primary classroom. I personally thought this chapter was full of awesome ideas. As with just about anything it is all about differentiation. In many cases, that can be just toning down for our younger ones. I think we still use the same terms (don't change it because they will see them as the years go on), but we can add examples or modifications. 

For example, the first step is called: Reading through lenses. For my students, I wear glasses and contact lenses and I could use this as an example of how if I don't wear one of these items I cannot see anything at all, but when I use my lenses I can see a lot better, and a lot more!

(*sidenote: in the party section at Target are these awesome glasses. I have 5 and am going to use them on my reading bulletin board. I thought of them the whole time I was reading this chapter and thought it would be so fun for our kids to wear them if we had them in a small group doing this.)

The basics of reading through lenses is gathering text evidence. We're looking for the details. In a fiction text this may be something like looking for what a character says/does/thinks/feels. It may also be how a setting or place is described. In an informational text we can gather these details from facts, descriptions, even photos and their captions. 

In terms of how this may be similar or different to word choice I would think (word choice is addressed in chapter 3) that with word choice we are going to look at the type of language used. Whereas with text evidence we are looking for details and information, we're not analyzing the words. 

The next step (or step 2) is called: Using lenses to find patterns. In basic terms I think of this as analyzing the details we just uncovered during step 1 (notice I didn't say analyzing the word choice, but the details). I also thought of this like sorting - sorting the details that go together. Maybe you want to to sort it by color coding, maybe you want to circle one set of details that go together and box another set. It's up to what works for you and your students. What I did like about the coding/sorting is that they mentioned making a key, like a map key -- what a great way to tie in some social skills! 

The third step is: Use the patterns to develop a new understanding of the text. What I love about this step is it is the actual process of basically, how have our thoughts or ideas changed about this character/or whatever non-fiction piece you are studying during this process?

In fact there are even sentence frames and prompts that were provided. I love that there are sentence frames because it is so valuable to my ESOL students. I've put a few reminder/prompt cards together for you. Click on the picture to be taken to the free cards (please leave feedback if you like these)!



Now I have to tell you my favorite part of this chapter was the suggestion of teaching a lesson with song lyrics first in order to introduce this whole concept. So you will use the lyrics of the song as what will be read closely, or analyzed. They used the example of a Justin Bieber song, and while my 2nd graders know who he is, I was thinking more along the lines of Let It Go from Frozen. 
So the idea behind this is that some people will already like the song and some won't which is the perfect combination for this (my 2nd grade boys were so over this song last year...but I still played it cause I liked it, hehe). 
So you would play the song once and then post the lyrics (I would also print out the lyrics and have a handout for each student). You can look at the lyrics to try to determine what message the song is trying to convey. 

So here is how I envision this: 

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I'm the queen.

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I tried!

Don't let them in, don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know
Well, now they know!

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!

I don't care
What they're going to say

Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me

Can't get to me at all!

It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through

No right, no wrong, no rules for me I'm free!
Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You'll never see me cry!

Here I stand
And here I'll stay
Let the storm rage on!

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast

I'm never going back,
The past is in the past!

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

The blue highlighting is about her power and what she can do. 
The orange is about how everyone knows and she is dealing with it.
The yellow is about how she had to stifle herself and couldn't be who she was. 

Obviously getting the students to see all of these things will take training. So maybe in the beginning they receive direction about a certain theme to look for. **Please please take into consideration that this is not official, I am not an expert, these are just my ideas for how I would teach this to group of 2nd graders who are mainly ESOL students. There is not a right or wrong with this set of lyrics or any of it.** How do you want the lesson to go? What standard are you teaching? Just make sure that as your students are practicing this independently (when ready) you are assessing their work in order to help you decide your next steps.

Happy Reading!
Make sure to enter our giveaway and check out the other bloggers in this books study (I know there's a freebie along the way). 

Let's Fall in Love (with Close Reading)!




Welcome to our book study with Dianna at Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching. Close Reading is certainly a "buzz phrase" going around the teaching world. There are a couple of book studies taking place about close reading, but when Dianna put a call out, I knew I wanted to participate in this one. 


We've chosen to study this book, Falling in Love with Close Reading, by Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts. Christopher Lehman also authored the book Pathways to the Common Core. My old principal had us read that book two years ago. She didn't require us to do a study of the book but she always said during her observations that she could tell the teachers who had read it. 

I also was fortunate enough this past school year to attend a professional development in my county called Vision. It met one Saturday a month from September to December. A book we delved into closely during that time was Notice and Note. So alas, close reading is not new to me. I attempted it midway through the school year this past year with some higher level reading groups. Time did not permit us to get very far. What I know from that experience is that I have more to learn. I also know that if I begin this process from the beginning of the school year both my students and myself can only get better with it. That's a good thing because I head back to school is just 23 days (yikes)! So without further ado:


Chapter 1 is really just an overview of what exactly close reading is and what it should be in a classroom. Before I go into the questions, I have to tell you that the very first paragraph was a brilliant analogy. Without having read anything in this book I was already aware that part of good close reading is reading a text or passage over and over again. Think about the things and people we love. We know them so well because we study them, and spend time with them, over and over again. It's as though we study the things and people we love. Think about it - how do you come to know a friend so well? You listen and listen over and over again when you have conversations. Close reading resembles a similar type of studying. 


1. Close reading is 1. involves rereading; 2. an interaction between the reader and the text; 3. making careful observations about a text and then interpreting them (or digging deeper); 4. It is something we should teach students to do, rather than just show them, do for them, or do to them. 
*It's important to note that the views of what close reading is has changed over time and adapted as common core became part of the everyday. 

2.  Powerful close reading instruction has several 'musts'. It must: 
- raise engagement
- lead to student independence
- be just one piece of your reading instruction, not all of it
- allow students to read for extended periods
- be repeated, allowing time for practice and refinement
- be designed to meet the needs of your students, not just 'work' with a book you are reading

3. Currently in my close reading, I always introduce new vocabulary. We read, and we read again. Maybe the third time we underline/highlight what we think is important. We have discussions. I know I am not perfect in this and what I am most excited to uncover in this book is methods and differentiation (especially for getting students to actually want to read something over and over again. 

Be sure to come back next Sunday for chapter 2, as I begin to uncover some of the aforementioned methods. 

In the meantime, make sure you enter our giveaway. 
And, make sure you go visit these other blogs participating in this book study, there are some great blogs and teachers to learn from.