One of my favorite things to do as a teacher has always been planning inquiry-based science units for students. I love to teach students how to ask questions and look for answers! It is easier now more than ever to find the answers to our questions with just a touch of a button. However, students need to learn at an early age everything on the Internet is not exactly the God’s honest truth.
Teaching students to think critically and examine information carefully is why I love teaching close reading. Close reading assists the learner in understanding the text at a deeper level. The strategy not only helps students understand the text but helps answer questions using evidence from the text. Another component of close reading is to compare and analyze two or more texts. By doing so, students can make informed decisions about information found on the Internet or in books.
One of my favorite inquiry units is my unit on Animal Adaptations. Students study animal adaptations through the close reading of texts and online articles. Students are given the opportunity to take what they have learned and study an animal. The unit teaches scientific inquiry, literary devices, and informational reading/writing.
Of course, as with most of my units, it is structured using the 5E’s of Instruction. It starts out by building background knowledge of the topic. Students write, “What they THINK they Know about Animal Adaptations.” To learn if their thinking is correct, students begin studying animal adaptations through close reading of online articles, books, poetry, and more. Students need specific modeling of the process of close reading strategies through explicit instruction. Here are my recommendations:
Close Reading: First Reading
Requires students to break the surface of the text. I like to set a purpose for reading. For example, during this unit students are provided specific details to THINK about as they read. Don’t have students spend too much time examining the text during the first read. They just need to break the surface and understand the basic footprint of the text.
Close Reading: Second Reading
The second reading is when students start digging deeper. I typically give students a text dependent question to answer during this time. I also like to have students annotate the text to help them. One of my favorite technology tools to use for close reading is Skitch. If there are no devices available, consider using Skitch on the desktop as a model for students.
Close Reading: Third Reading
The third reading is where the rubber meets the road. During this time, students will read another text or watch a video and compare, analyze, and synthesize the ideas from the different sources. By comparing, analyzing, and synthesizing text student can determine fact from fiction, integrate their knowledge of the topic, and make informed decisions. The easiest way to do this is by using a simple Venn diagram or T-chart. If you have devices, I found a great Venn diagram app the other day. Perfect for getting students to compare and contrast two texts.
This unit is filled with tons of other ideas and activities to do with your students including spending time with vocabulary and language. One of the books chosen for the unit is entitled “Into the Sea” by Brenda Z. Guiberson. The book has beautiful, descriptive language about the life cycle of the endangered sea turtle. There are several literary devices to be taught using this text as well as gather factual information. It is a great way to integrate subjects in an engaging, authentic, and meaningful way.
The unit concludes with students choosing one of the animals from the book of poems “Beast Feast” by Douglas Florian. The poetry is humorous and entertaining to students and offers a great resource for inferring about the animal’s adaptations. Students complete an end of the unit project. I have other close reading units. Click here to read more. If you would like to try this unit with your students click on the image below to check it out.
So how do you teach close reading? I would love to hear what you think about the ideas on this page. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends by clicking on the social media buttons below. Thanks for stopping by!