After I started experimenting with Close Reading during Language Arts, I thought, why not try close reading to teach the other subjects? As a 5th grade teacher, I feel immense responsibility to teach my students about how our nation began. This is the year they need to learn the history of America so if they are not walking out of my door knowing who the two Georges were, when will they learn it? In the past, I have even put social studies on the back burner in order to teach math and language arts. Let’s face it, there is only so much time in the day! So, the beauty was, I decided I could use Close Reading to teach social studies concepts. During my language arts block, I have found that teaching tricky topics such as the Columbian Exchange WITH close reading
techniques allows students more autonomy and ownership of knowledge because they have laser focus on content while annotating (leaving symbols to show reactions) and paraphrasing in order to learn vivid vocabulary, make inferences, determine an author’s purpose, and visualize what they are learning. Kids are interacting with complex vocabulary, annotating the text to show their reactions, AND responding to text dependent questions. I feel accomplished in the sense that I am providing students with tools for dissecting complex text that they often are faced with on a test.
The changes that I have seen in my students are all about their ability to discuss and talk about what they are reading! I love having “coffee talks" where the students partner up and discuss their annotation symbols. They talk about why they thought a word was considered complex and even help each other to determine the meaning. They talk about what they agree or disagree with and why. They talk about what surprised them and what they found interesting. And the best part? The talking is productive, academic, but still FUN! They love it.
Here is a passage I use on the History of Thanksgiving to get you started with your kiddos!
Click on the picture below to be taken to this FREE download!
Have you started Close Reading in your classroom?