How to Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students


First and second-graders are usually ready to start testing their reading comprehension skills. Close reading, which is part of the Common Core State Standard, can help students understand the deeper meaning in a text and notice patterns and vocabulary words. With a simple lesson plan and the right text, you can get your class started on close reading to improve their skills today.

[Edit]Steps

[Edit]Preparation

  1. Pick out a fun, engaging picture book. First and second-graders will appreciate a book with pictures that they can follow along with. Try to choose a text that has problems they can relate to, like dealing with homework or not wanting to do chores. Pick out a story that has both male and female characters so everyone in class can relate.[1]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 1 Version 2.jpg
  2. Start with short texts. Close reading can be time-consuming, especially for younger children. Stick to a book that’s no longer than 10 or so pages so you can read it fairly quickly and answer questions. As the children get older, they can move onto longer stories.[2]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • In general, the text of the story should be no more than 1 to 2 pages if you put it all together.
  3. Come up with a few questions about the text. Close reading is all about gaining a deeper understanding of the story and the narrative. Focus on the characters, the overall message, and any important vocab words that you can pick out. Before you introduce the book to your class, write around 5 questions to ask them at the end. Good questions include:[3]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 3 Version 2.jpg
    • “Who are the main characters in this story?”
    • “What problem is the main character having?”
    • “Did you notice any words that were repeated more than once?”
    • “What did you learn from this story?”
    • “Does this book remind you of anything else we’ve read?”

[Edit]Introduction

  1. Explain why you would use close reading. Experts note that explaining why you are teaching close reading helps students get a grasp on it much sooner. Tell your students that the point of close reading is to get a deeper understanding of the story and what the author is trying to say. Let them know that when they close read, they’ll pay more attention and have more to say about the story.[4]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 4 Version 2.jpg
    • You might say something like, “Today we’re going to read a story, but we’re going to read it closely. What that means is we’re going to think about the characters and the storyline, and then we’ll answer some questions about the book at the end.”
  2. Read the text aloud with the class. Try your first close reading together as a group. You can either read the text in its entirety, or you can pause and point out important characters and words as you go along. If you want to, hand out copies of the story to your students so they can follow along with you.[5]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 5 Version 2.jpg
  3. Introduce questions about the text. The right questions will focus your class on the specifics that they need. Focus on attention to detail, main characters, problems faced, and even vocabulary words.[6]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 6 Version 2.jpg
    • An easy question to ask is “What’s the problem?” Most main characters face some kind of issue that they have to fix or solve.
    • Another good question to ask is “What happened in the story?”
  4. Encourage students to highlight or underline important parts. Remind them about the questions you asked in the beginning, and ask them to mark up parts of the story that might answer those questions. If you don’t have enough copies of the text, you can gather your students into small groups so they can share.[7]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 7 Version 2.jpg
    • For instance, you might ask the class, “Who is the main character?” They would then circle words or phrases that are related to this question.
  5. Answer the questions about the text with the class. Give your students your example questions and then help them answer them out loud. If they’re having trouble, flip to the page in the story that might help them answer the question and read the text aloud again.[8]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 8.jpg
    • If they’re having trouble, try asking questions about the cover of the book. Point out the main character and any side characters to solidify them in your student’s minds.
    • Your kiddos might not know all the answers to your questions after one reading, and that’s okay! Close reading is about going over things multiple times. It’s fine to go back and re-read a page or two if you need to.

[Edit]Practice

  1. Hand the text out to the students to work in groups. Groups of 4 or 5 students are usually small enough to handle close reading. Try to mix up the groups and include different students at various reading levels.[9]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 9.jpg
    • If you have any students who still struggle with reading, you can pair them with the strong readers in the class.
  2. Encourage students to read the text again. Tell them to think about the questions you asked earlier and let them know that it’s okay to read slowly. Ask them to notice any details about the characters or story that they think might be important.[10]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 10.jpg
  3. Ask the class questions about the text. Keep them similar to the ones you asked earlier, but mix it up a little. If the students are struggling, ask them to simply summarize what they just read. Then, you can help them answer close reading questions like:[11]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 11.jpg
    • “Why did the main character do what he did?”
    • “How did the main character convince his mom to let him play?”
    • “Do you think what the main character did was a good idea?”
  4. Have your students write the answers to questions. First and second-graders are usually ready to write down answers instead of just saying them out loud. If you think your kids are ready, tell them to jot down their answers on a piece of paper instead of raising their hands. If they aren’t, just discuss your answers as a class.[12]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 12.jpg
    • In general, most kids are ready to write down answers when they’re half-way through first grade.
  5. Connect the text to other readings you’ve done. See if your students can find any patterns or connecting themes. For instance, if you read a story last week about a character who didn’t want to go to school, you might connect it to your reading of a character who didn’t want to do their chores. Pattern recognition is an important part of close reading, too.[13]
    Teach Close Reading to First and Second Grade Students Step 13.jpg
    • You might ask something like, “Do you think this story was like the one we read last week?”

[Edit]Video

[Edit]Tips

  • You don’t have to use close reading for every story your class reads. It’s a good skill to have, but kids should also be able to read for their own enjoyment.

[Edit]Related wikiHows

[Edit]References

  1. https://us.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upm-assets/78580_book_item_78580.pdf
  2. https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/closing-in-on-close-reading
  3. https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/closing-in-on-close-reading
  4. https://www.teachthought.com/literacy/what-close-reading-actually-means/
  5. https://us.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upm-assets/78580_book_item_78580.pdf
  6. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/writing_in_literature/writing_about_fiction/index.html
  7. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/writing_in_literature/writing_about_fiction/index.html
  8. https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/closing-in-on-close-reading
  9. https://us.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upm-assets/78580_book_item_78580.pdf
  10. https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/closing-in-on-close-reading
  11. https://us.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upm-assets/78580_book_item_78580.pdf
  12. https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/closing-in-on-close-reading
  13. https://www.teachthought.com/literacy/what-close-reading-actually-means/