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Close Reading in Primary Grades

Close Reading is one of my favorite methods of instruction in my literacy block. It is such an effective way to teach a new skill so that your students will remember it!

But, I’ve found that close reading tends to be more popular among upper grades teachers. The benefits of using the close reading routine in the primary grades are sometimes harder to see. We worry that our students will get bored hearing the same text over and over. Or, we worry that the idea of diving deeper into a text is too complicated for younger readers. 

I’ve learned that the opposite is true! Today, I want to take you all on a close reading deep dive! 

What is close reading?

A close read, to put it simply, is taking one really great text and expanding your teaching over the course of several days (sometimes even a week).

Start by choosing one, quality text that highlights the skills or standards that you need to hit that week. Kick off the week by simply reading the text for your students’ enjoyment. Use this first lesson to ensure that students comprehended the text as a whole, and any unfamiliar vocabulary has been addressed. 

In subsequent lessons, reread the same text, but focus on one, new goal. Plan for your mini lessons about that text intentional and small so that students can look for one new thing in the text each day. Your skill for the week may be characters and setting, so you may read one day and chart the characters, then read another day and chart the setting. 

Because your students will have already heard the story, they can focus simply on that skill! They aren’t caught up in trying to see what will happen next, and can focus on finding evidence instead!

Benefits of Close Reading

Take time to simply enjoy a story!

Doesn’t it feel like we have less and less time to simply read with our students for enjoyment? The great thing about close reading is this is how you start your week of instruction. Just read a story for the students to hear it.  You need to clear the way for students to be able to focus on a single skill the next day. So, reading for understanding is an important first step.

Deepen Comprehension

Every time you reread the text to your students, they will comprehend it a little bit better. Isn’t this true of us as readers as well? Have you ever began reading an article and felt like you needed to read a section two or three times to really understand what they were saying? Because our students get to hear one text multiple times in a week, their understanding of that text will be far deeper than if you pulled a different text out every day. On top of that, we know that citing text evidence is an important upper grades skill. This is the first step in that direction!

Have time to teach a variety of skills in one week.

If a text lends itself well to something you need to practice with your students, you can use the close reading routine to teach it! You can hit phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fiction and nonfiction standards, and writing out of a single text. You will feel at ease planning your lessons because all of the material you need is in the one text you chose.

Grow your students! 

Close reading sets our students up for success. We are teaching our students valuable skills that they will use for years to come in school, and we are teaching them the joy of reading. If you incorporate a close reading routine into your classroom this year, you are sure to see growth in your students. You will see more engagement, which leads to more investment, which in turn becomes growth! And isn’t that the most important benefit of them all?

Do you want to get started with close reading in your classroom, but you aren’t sure where to start? My Winter Close Reading Passages are the perfect way to introduce this routine in small groups to your students. All of the pieces you need to teach a variety of complete, close reading lessons are included in this pack. Click here to see the set in my TPT store!

Aylin Claahsen

Aylin Claahsen

Providing resources and support to engage all readers.

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Hi, I'm Aylin!

I’m so happy you’re here! I’m a certified reading specialist who loves talking all things literacy. I have a huge passion for providing resources and support to engage all readers!

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