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Close Reading

Page history last edited by Mrs. Menge 6 years, 9 months ago




Instructional elements that are commonly included in a close reading lesson include:

  • Close Reading is usually with short texts or articles

  • Close Reading often accompanies a unit of study, rather than being an isolated topic of study

  • Close Reading is ACTIVE reading:

    • Students should be able to mark the text (with pens, with post-its)
    • Often, students are asked to read once without marking, and RE-READ with marking/annotations
    • Questions accompanying a close read should be text dependent, not experience dependent




A Summary of Strategies for a Close Reading Lesson



Chunking the text means breaking up the text into smaller sections.  This is done by drawing a horizontal line between paragraphs into smaller sections.   Breaking the text up or “chunking” it makes the page much more manageable for students.  It is important to know that there isn’t any right or wrong way to chunk the text, as long as you can justify why you grouped certain paragraphs together.



Telling students to simply underline “the important stuff” is too vague. Underline and Circle needs to direct the students to underline and circle very specific things.  Think about the information you want students to take from the text, and ask them to look for those elements. Circling specific items are an effective close reading strategy might include key terms, names of sources, power verbs, or figurative language.  Providing students with a specific thing you want them to underline or circle will focus their attention on that area much better than “underlining important information”.



A form of commenting in smaller fragments to help students understand text dependent material.  This is accomplished in the forms of:

  • Post It Notes
    • The teacher gives students a limited number of Post-its prior to assigning a text passage.  As the students perform their first reading of a short portion of the passage, they place Post-its by key vocabulary, concepts, or information.  After completing the first reading of the passage, the students write questions on the Post-its about the words, concepts, or pieces of information regarding the sections they marked.  The teacher then can utilize a number of sub-strategies: students can use their completed Post-its to question each other (pairs), with responders finding answers in the text; the teacher can collect Post-its from students and use them to question the entire class; or the teacher can have students popcorn questions to other students in the room. This portion of the lesson can be customized in many different ways.
  • Writing in the margins, which can be broken down into left margin annotation which summarizes the main idea of that chunk, or right margin annotation where students dig deeper by using questions, defining vocabulary, drawing illustrations.



Works well with the Post-It Annotations Close Reading method.  The students use questions they have written on Post-its to quiz one another, the teacher can collect Post-It notes and read some well-done ones to the class for either a written or oral response, or non-volunteer students can popcorn questions they have written on Post-its to other students in the class. This portion of the lesson can be customized in many different ways.



This is a useful questioning technique designed to assist students in formulating questions and answers based on a text passage.  Student partners read a passage together, then write two to three questions and answers to quiz one another.  This procedure builds prior knowledge and vocabulary through discussions.  The teacher chooses a passage of text, then designates short segments within the passage.  When ReQuest is introduced, it is advisable to conduct the first round so that the teacher is the one to answer questions generated by the students.  The student/questioners have their books open and check the teacher’s answers against the text.  Once this phase is complete, the roles are reversed.  After reading the next segment of text, the teacher becomes the questioner while the students answer.  Once students are familiar with ReQuest, the sequence can be used in small groups to support their understanding of the text.



This strategy describes four types of questions: Right There, Think and Search, Author and You, and On Your Own.  The strategy is based on three categories of questions: text explicit (the answer is directly quoted in the text); text implicit (the answer must be implied from several passages in the book); and script implicit (requires both the text ad prior knowledge and experiences.)  QAR requires teachers to model the different levels of questions that are associated with a text.  This strategy also considers the reader’s background knowledge and the text.  QAR is a student-centered approach to questioning because it clarifies how students can approach the task of reading texts and answering questions.



The students will summarize what they have learned in the lesson with five complete sentences that are pertinent to the material read during the lesson.  Non-volunteers can share what they have written, students can turn-in the sentences for grade, or students can pair share their sentences.  This portion of the lesson can be customized in many different ways.



The teacher asks students to select partners (if pair sharing has not been part of the lesson to that point) or new partners (if pair sharing has been part of the lesson) and discuss the key points of the reading/class.  The teacher then calls on non-volunteers to summarize what pair groups have discussed.



When students annotate as they read, it keeps them focused and engaged with the text. It makes comprehension more conscious and intentional, which is especially useful for difficult text.


  1. Model annotation using think-alouds. Focus on unfamiliar vocabulary, confusing parts of the text, connections, etc.  Underline, highlight, use Post-its, and/or write notes in margins.
  2. Give instructions for student reading and annotation. As you read this article, I want you to do what I’ve just demonstrated. First, underline information that is important, surprising, interesting, or thought provoking. Then, before continuing to read, stop and jot down a sentence or two that explains why you chose that bit to underline. The goal is to explain your thoughts, opinions, or questions. Try to imagine that you are having a conversation with the text inside your head. Your notes are your side of the conversation.
  3. Pair-share Students should compare what they annotated and their thoughts connected to those underlines.
  4. Whole class share/discussion.



This can go along nicely with text annotation; it’s a quick way to make notes using simple symbols in the margins in reaction to text. Adding coding to underlining, circling, and marginal notes (text annotation) can create a robust way of excavating meaning from a text, marking it up to open it up. Adding coding can kick comprehension up another notch.


  1. Introduce codes - Provide student handouts or a poster and explain each code
  2. Demonstrate coding - Use the first part of the text (think aloud/model) - also show how you write a word or two to help you remember what the code means.
  3. Kids try coding - Students try it with the rest of the article. Have them find at least three places to put a code.
  4. Pair Share - Partners discuss codes they used and where they were placed.
  5. Whole class share - Can extend by asking, “Did anyone have a reaction or some thinking there was no code for?  What new codes should we create?” 




The sequence used in SQ3R is intended to echo the behavior of effective readers. As studentssurvey  the material before reading, they predict what the material will be about, what prior knowledge will be relevant, and which strategies will be useful in approaching the new text. They formulate questions in anticipation of the content they are about to encounter. The students’ prior knowledge and use of reading strategies assist them in constructing meaning of the content area text. However, their comprehension does not necessarily lead to learning that is meaningful and useful. Learning takes place when the new information becomes an interactive part of existing knowledge. Therefore, they recite answers to their own questions and make notes for later use. They then review the text, rereading for details and to clarify questions that remain unanswered. (Taken from p. 94 in Improving Adolescent Literacy: Content Area Strategies at Work.)

SQ3R Close Reading Strategy
S  Survey Skim text for headings, charts, bold words, italicized words, and pictures. With remaining time, begin reading the text with your pencil down.
Q  Question Turn headings into questions.
R  Read Read to answer your questions (in your mind).
R  Recite Answer questions and make notes in the margins, on post-its, or in your notebook. (The “reciting” happens when you share with a partner or it happens in your mind, as you silently or quietly rehearse the answers to the questions.)
R  Review Reread for details and unanswered questions.




A questioning strategy for use with a short (or chunked) text; after re-reading, students formulate questions and answers based on a text passage; can be used as a partner activity or a whole-group activity


  1. Allow the students to read and familiarize themselves with the text selection.
  2. Teacher hands out task cards (see below). Review these with the class.
  3. Teacher models with class (especially important if this is the first time you’ve used this strategy). Teacher may model being the Respondent first. The students generate text-based questions (meaning that the answers must be found in the text). The students ask the questions of the teacher, who does his/her best to answer. The students check the answers in their text.
  4. Then the roles are reversed, and the teacher becomes the Questioner, modeling writing the questions and then asking the students to answer them.
  5. Once the students are familiar with the strategy, they can use this in pairs or small groups.
  6. Teachers can modify this in many ways. They can ask the students to validate their answers with evidence from the text. As students get even more familiar with the strategy, they can move from asking simple comprehension questions to asking questions that require inference.

Questioner Task Card

  1. Read the passage silently. Pay attention to the information it contains.
  2. Think of questions to ask. Try to use your own words, not exact phrases from the passage.
  3. Keep your book/article open while you ask your question. Listen to the answer, then check to see if it is accurate.  If it is not, ask another question to help the person arrive at the correct answer.
  4. When finished, change roles. Repeat 2-3 times.


Respondent Task Card

  1. Read the passage silently. Pay attention to the information it contains.
  2. Think of questions you might be asked. Check the passage you just read for possible answers.
  3. Answer each question you are asked. You can ask the questioner to rephrase or clarify
    a question you do not understand.
  4. When finished, change roles. Repeat 2-3 times.



White Boards – Teacher asks text dependent questions. Students write response (can be limited to three words, a sentence, a word, etc.) on boards. Have students show on command, call on a few students who are correct to share.

Post-It Quiz – Students are given post-its and asked to write a text-dependent question. Students ask each other the text-dependent questions as initial stage of closure. Teacher collects post-its, scans for “best” questions, and ask questions of class before they leave that day. (Great questions can also be formatted into a student quiz!)

10-Word Exit Ticket – Teacher asks students to summarize key ideas in a sentence that is ten words or less. Could also be ten key words or a combination of words/phrases that summarize the lesson. This can be customized by teacher. Teacher collects this as students leave and is able to assess student understanding.



Identify new vocabulary words, write and answer text dependent questions, find key words or phrases, details, facts, dates, sequencing, etc.



Questioner Task

  1. Read silently.
  2. Reread and write questions. Try and use your own words, not exact phrases from the passage.  The questions must be the type that can be answered using the text, not any other information.
  3. Keep your book/article open while you ask your question. Listen to the answer, then check to see if it is accurate. If it is not, ask another question to help the person arrive at the correct answer.
  4. When finished, change roles. Repeat 2-3 times.

Respondent Task

  1. Read silently.
  2. Reread and think of questions you might be asked.
  3. Close your book and answer each question you are asked in complete sentences. You can ask the questioner to rephrase or clarify a question you do not understand. 
  4. When finished, change roles. Repeat 2-3 times. 



Text coding is a strategy used to help students keep track of thinking while they are reading.  Students use a simple coding system to mark the text and record what they are thinking either in the margins or on post-it notes. Following are options for students to use while coding text.


I knew this!


I am confused


This is exciting!


This is important

This reminds me of something else



 to Close Close Reading (After)

Quick Write:  response journal, sentence stems (“One thing I learned about _______ is…”), write a summary, answer specific questions, make illustrations, create diagrams, etc.

Exit Ticket: Have students hand you a post-it where they have annotated they have an understanding of the lesson.  This can be a text-dependent question they wrote with the answer, a new vocabulary word with the definition, a key point from the reading, etc.

Student-generated post-it quiz: Use the student generated post-it notes with text dependent questions to create a quiz. All you need to do is make a copy of the students’ post-its to create the quiz. 



This pre-reading strategy helps you “steal” information before you actually begin reading the chapter.



Close Reading in Action


Teaching Hard Vocabulary Words

Vocabulary Paint Chips

Sharing Common Core Language Standards with Students



Text Analysis:  Questions and Symbols

Higher Order Questions



Close Reading of Poetry



Grappling with Complex Informational Text


GRADES 3 - 5

Preparing for Discussion via Re-read and Annotation

Text Based Debate


Additional Resources


















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