‘Gather round, I’ve a story to tell . . .’ Deconstructing Close Reading – Part 3

This story starts all the way back in 2011. At that time I had been teaching for a few years and was working in the 5th grade, after having previously taught in 1st and 3rd.  I had always strived to bring authentic content and instruction into my classroom in the hopes that I was creating life-long learners, but I knew there had to be a better way.


A colleague of mine had attended a summer training on something called ‘close reading.’ I missed the training, but after talking with her realized that this idea of close reading sounded a bit complex but rather intriguing. In fact, it seemed, like the solution to replacing the outdated basal system I had no interest in using, and hadn’t actually used for years. At that point, I went ahead and began my research. I googled for hours, watched videos on youtube, downloaded ebooks, and examples and basically tried to wrap my head around this ‘new’ method of instruction, this new ‘buzz word.’

This was a great time for me. Here I was jumping off a cliff and taking strides towards doing more with my students. I was pushing them further than I had in the past and taking their learning to new plateaus. Life was pretty good, but by the time mid-September of that year rolled around I realized there were a few issues with the standard implementation of close reading that I had been attempting to utilize in my classroom.

These ‘issues’ started to really get under my skin. As I researched each lesson and gathered resources and outlines I was exposed to a lot of close reading practices that made me feel less than great about close reading overall. At this time I was also the 5th-grade team leader and was not only trying to implement close reading in my classroom but to spearhead close reading across my grade level, and even more-so my school.

Check out my next post – 

‘A Sudden Breakthrough’ Part 4



‘What? Close Reading a.k.a. Reading Closely’ Deconstructing Close Reading -Part 2

forum-on-engaged-reading-deconstructing-close-reading-in-an-elementary-setting-003What is Close Reading a.k.a. Reading Closely?

Close Reading is something I am extremely passionate about. It is something that I think is misunderstood and needs to be addressed, especially today. Over the past couple of years as I have personally delved into this method of instruction I have come to the conclusion that there is a distinct problem with the perception teachers have of Close Reading. The common opinion is that Close Reading is extremely complicated or time intensive. So much so, that it requires too much work to yield any positive return. There is also the polar opposite opinion that Close Reading is quick and easy. This opinion also has problems. It would mean Close Reading is a type of low-quality instruction that would be irresponsible to bring into a classroom.

So when you think about it, these misconceptions really stem from trying to implement a teacher driven method of Close Reading. A teacher driven method of Close Reading sounds good at first but is not sustainable in an everyday classroom. When teachers burn out we lack passion and without passion we lose our ability to guide learning. As a result, there is a lot of misinformation floating around about Close Reading, or Reading Closely.

So the question is, how do we counteract these popular opinions? Do we really need to? If we have an interest in and believe that there are better ways to authentically teach our students, integrate curriculum, and differentiate, what can we do about it?

And that is what I want to talk to you all about today. Over the next few posts, I am going to share my story with you and try to address the major fallacy of ‘Close Reading being too complicated for the everyday classroom.’ I am a believer in authentic instruction within a classroom. I think it is important to savor every minute I have with my students and I try not to do anything within the walls of my classroom without a firm purpose behind it.

Check out my next post – 

‘Gather round, I’ve a story to tell . . . ‘ Part 3

‘Deconstructing Close Reading in an Elementary School Classroom’ – Part 1

Version 2

This is my ‘I hate taking notes’ face.

I hate taking notes at conferences. Okay, well I don’t hate it. I actually get quite a bit of good information by taking notes, but I would much rather listen and engage with the speaker and then grab a transcript of their session at a later time.

Hence, over the next few posts, I will be including a direct transcript of the session I spoke at this month for Utah Valley University. Feel free to check it out, share with others, ask questions, and let me know if there is anything more I can do to help clarify my method of ‘Deconstructed Close Reading.’

Session Overview

Transcript from UVU Forum on Engaged Reading (10/16)

Discover an authentic and differentiated approach to close reading, also known as reading closely. Five specific reading tasks merge into one formula.

-An innovative way to scaffold independent reading of complex texts

-A simple method for integrating Social Studies and Science curriculum

By empowering yourself, you empower your students!

Session Description

By Paige Drumm (O Classroom! My Classroom!)

Close reading is a literal term used to categorize reading closely.  Close reading, while simple in name, can be in theory and application complex.

This session is for teachers who work with primary or intermediate elementary school students.  No previous experience or understanding of close reading is necessary. Specific examples of the close reading formula and the daily cycle will be provided. Attendees will walk away with an increased understanding of the close reading process.

The formula itself, including daily tasks, is adaptable within any content and curriculum. It is also self-differentiating. The formula provides opportunities for all students to take part and build understanding. Through active participation, students delve into deeper thinking and gain confidence learning how to engage in independent reading. The tiered tasks provide opportunities for guided and autonomous practice. Leading both teachers and students through the process of comprehending complex texts. The tasks drive students towards engaged learning, collaborative conversations, and writing from text sources.

At the beginning of each formula cycle, students read to get the flow. They then spend time targeting vocabulary and defining strategies. Next, students focus on paraphrasing and summarizing. Finally, the cycle ends with, generating supported inferences using textual evidence and quotes. At this point, teachers and students integrate their close reading knowledge into writing content. Or, the cycle repeats with a new complex piece of literature or nonfiction.

Every task, within the close reading formula, has an authentic purpose and meaning. There is no wasted classroom time. This specific approach minimizes teacher preparation while maximizing student regulated learning. It is a simple, purposeful, focused way to optimize the reading of complex texts. The formula is unique and empowering. It helps teachers create an environment where students are masters of their own knowledge!


Research has determined that there is more than one way to teach close reading. All methods contain similar facets.

Learning what questions to pose during a lesson is key. The questions asked, determine how deep students delve into textual understanding.  They also play a role in student’s level of engagement.

Teachers must be careful to scaffold close reading experiences.

For close reading to be successful, pair it with other sound instructional practices.

Check out my next post – 

‘What? Close Reading a.k.a. Reading Closely’ Part 2