Close reading is a guided reading approach. It is guided because 1) the close reading strategy is reserved for complex texts that are often too high for students to be left with independently and 2) students don’t use close reading strategies instinctively – students have to be trained how to be critical readers and thinkers. Teachers take on the role of facilitator and guide students with the close reading steps that alternate students reading and annotating independently and answering then discussing text dependent questions, with the teacher modeling the process. It is a process that is not done every day, but is to be implemented to foster skills in students that will carry with them in their education and careers. After all…..do you remember highlighting texts with no purpose in mind? I do. I remember the struggle. This process ensures that all students avoid that struggle and truly learn HOW to read, understand, and articulate.
So how can it be seamlessly and meaningfully integrated into content areas?
Experts debate on food-related controversial, real-world, current topics in these Wall Street Journal articles. Teachers of science, social studies, culinary arts, food sciences, health, nutrition, etc. can take these articles and create a classroom of critical readers and writers who can debate with the best of them following a few suggestions:
- Choose a topic and article from the series based on class interest or your curriculum.
- Frontload the content with other articles and videos to build background knowledge and create alternate viewpoints.
- Guide students to read both sides of the issues using close reading strategies and steps.
- Have students choose a side of the debate.
- Facilitate the students’ use of research to support their case, going beyond points made in the articles.
- Provide an Argument Writing organizer (which also considers opposing views to discredit) for students to organize supporting evidence from their research.
- Provide opportunities for students on the same side of the debate to collaborate.
- Assist students in writing their argument piece, including supporting evidence.
Extension – Next time, allow students to choose their own topic, now that scaffolding has taken place.
Variation – Try the concept in any content area.
This lesson idea provides an authentic arena for honing critical reading, writing and communication skills – in all content areas.
Do we need to teach students to be independent readers and writers, within all content areas? Yes.
Otherwise….where will they learn to acquire and articulate knowledge in all content areas? Otherwise….where will they learn to apply these strategies in life?