Close Read Strategies for the Struggling Reader

As an educator working with special learners, it is difficult enough to get my students reading fluently, nevermind having them interact further with the text.  Over the years, however, I have researched and implemented effective close reading strategies that can be used for the struggling reader or learner.  Here are some of the tips I use in my own special education classroom, that can of course even be adapted for the general education classroom.

Scaffolding instruction is KEY.  At the beginning of each year, before I even begin to teach my students the strategies for close reading with text, I teach them the same skills with visual and auditory aids.  We examine these sources several times, dig a little deeper each time, the same way we would with a rigorous text.  We focus on the main concept being studied, we discuss characters and their actions through organizational charts and character webs, we also support our analysis by citing actions or sounds within these audio and visual resources.

Modeling is crucial!  As with anything, explicitly model the steps being used.  I model often and allow several opportunities for my students to practice.  I do not rush the process.  Yes, sometimes I want to jump out the window because there are days where it seems they have not remembered a bit of what I've shown them.  However, then there are other days when I think, "Yes! It has finally stuck!"  Be patient, then when you have observed consistent, proper use of the skill,  move onto more challenging resources such as more difficult visual aids or, if they are ready, model the same process with text.

Breaking information down is very important in my classroom.  As often as possible, we use checklists, chants, songs, acronyms, anything that can help our brains chunk large concepts or pieces of information.  In my classroom, I use the five close reading strategies that best support the Common Core.  I created Close Read Strategy Posters for my classroom which are introduced through small group lessons, and are displayed throughout the entire year on my ELA focus board.  These posters are great visual aids in my classroom, and my students refer to them all the time.  Another resource I created is my Close Read Strategy Bookmarks.  My students departmentalize for Science and Social Studies.  A ton of close reading takes place in both these subjects, but my posters aren't there to guide them!  So, my students know to pop their Close Read Strategy Bookmarks into their binders before they head to class so they have their visual aid checklist with them at all times.  I made the bookmarks a free resource in my TpT store.  You can snag both of these resources in my store by clicking on the images below!  Wee!
Click on the image to purchase my Close Reading Strategy Posters in my store.
Click on the image to download this resource for FREE from my TpT store. 

The final step I use is teaching my students how to properly preview and summarize.  Once my students are ready to take on close read strategies with a text, I take them through text feature walks.  We analyze elements such as titles, subtitles, graphics, and vocabulary, all in an effort to predict what the text is going to be about.  During this phase, I allow a lot of student collaboration (turn and talk, walk and talk, pair share, etc.) so students feel less at risk with their predictions.  This is an excellent way for my students to practice their social skills, critical thinking, team leadership, and collaboration.  The final step would be to combine our preview skills and close reading strategies to summarize the text.  Again, lists are important in my room, and students are modeled strategies for how to eliminate information, break down concepts, and summarize in approximately 10 words.

Coming up within the next week or so, I will provide with you all my break down for previewing and summarizing text.  These next few posts will also incorporate resources to guide you!  So, be sure to check back soon!

What are some ways you incorporate close reading strategies in your classroom?

All the Best,
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