Welcome to the seventh post in our 7-week blog-a-thon on #closereading. Each week posts are added to the Contributors page and we are looking forward to your addition. Let’s closely read the practice of close reading together!
Also a reminder that we have two workshops coming up this December called “Fall in Love with Close Reading.” I will be in Brookfield, WI on December 6. Kate and I will be together in Amherst, NY on December 9. Registration as well as the number to call for lodging information or other questions can be found here. We look forward to working with you IN PERSON!
No, Really, They Are Not Happy.
I stumbled upon writing this post completely by accident. Last week, while updating the contributor page, I got on twitter and searched for the term “close reading.” I know many of you are using the hashtag and I was curious to see what other ideas were circulating. What I found–with some delight and horror–was not only are educators tweeting about close reading, but so are students. And so a post was born!
Here, for your viewing pleasure, is a small sampling of 48 hours of “close reading” student tweets. *Note: While tweets are in the public domain, I have chosen to black out specific twitter handles.
And the certifiably bizarre
You are correct.
That does sound so dumb.
Now, you could be thinking, “well students like to complain, they get on twitter and just share their angst.” To that claim, I submit this counter-evidence:
THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF ALL CAPS TWEETS PROFESSING LOVE TO ONE DIRECTION. EVERY. MINUTE.
Engagement Isn’t a Thing, It’s the Only Thing
Across the blog-a-thon many posts have been keenly aware that it’s critical that close reading instruction is student-centered, empowering, and engaging.
Mindi Rench‘s post during week one, “Close Reading: Please don’t let it be a return to ‘Read to answer the three questions at the end of the chapter,’” Scott McLeod‘s post during week three, “Will an emphasis on ‘close reading’ kill the joy of reading?” (both linked to on the contributor page), and our podcast with Franki Sibberson for Choice Literacy are all examples.
Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey noted in an IRA brief that if close reading instruction is not carefully crafted it could detract, instead of enhance, engagement and learning (see page 8).
I am reminded of a statement Donna Santman made in a workshop a few years ago: “As teachers, we first get good at reading to our students, but then we need to get good at reading our students.”
Every decision we make can raise or lower interest, belief, and learning.
Keep Close Reading Close to Them
In our work for Falling In Love with Close Reading one element that became critical to effective close reading instruction was conversation. Authors talk with authors, doctors talk with doctors, educators talk with educators–so too should readers talk with readers. We found that if you plan to have students voices within your instruction not only do you have more engaged learners, but you benefit from students developing more sophisticated ideas together and you are able to do much more assessment of their developing skills. The more students have opportunities to think out loud together, the more you truly can “read” your students.
Down to its most simple parts, lessons could progress like this:
- Teach a habit of close reading. Perhaps, zooming in on particular kinds of details like Kate emphasized in her last post.
- Demonstrate this habit with a small bit of text.
- Then, read a bit more of that text and invite students to now practice together.
- While students talk, listen!
- After the lesson, invite students to return to their own independent reading or book clubs. Offering more opportunities for engagement, conversation, and assessment.
The listening we do as educators, we argue, is not in a “are they getting the right answer?” kind of a way. Instead, you are listening for how their thinking is developing, if your instruction was clear, and–yes, my twitter friends–if they are engaged.
When you feel heard, you tend to say more. When you say more, you tend to feel more.
What are ways you already see engagement (or a lack there of)? In what ways do you engage your learners intellectually and emotionally? What are your reactions to the twitter comments? Add your comments and/or links to your own posts. This blog-a-thon is about all of us sharing ideas, see the Contributor Page for more posts and for information out how to share yours.
Look for Kate’s blog-a-thon Post 8 on Thursday!