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:


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.  

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