Looking Back Closely

During March and April, we focused on  practicing close reading. Some people would say that close reading is just a new way of saying ‘careful reading.’ We use close reading when text is difficult, confusing, or when it is important that we don’t miss any details. We might use close reading when we come to a chapter in a novel that is confusing. We might use it on a test, or on a tough math problem.

Of course, we don’t have to use close reading every time we read. We usually don’t need it when reading Facebook status updates or a book that is easy, fast and fun to read. But when we do use close reading, it can sure make a difference.

Here is the close reading routine we used. It only has three steps:

close reading

Read ONCE

…for the flow and the big idea.

THINK and PLAN

….What do you need to know?

….What is your purpose for reading?

RE-READ with a PURPOSE

…. and think again!

 Think about a time or two during the past few weeks when you decided to use close reading and a time when you didn’t. What was the difference? Post your thinking in the comments below.

(Here’s my example: I definitely used close reading when I was buying a ticket home for the summer break. It was very important I didn’t get the dates or cities wrong, or I would miss seeing my family! I also used close reading on a long magazine article about the Indian elections. I was interested, but a little confused, because I don’t know about all the smaller political parties here. I had to read several parts twice to find the answer to questions I had. However, most of the time, I don’t use close reading when I read my daily paper. I can understand most of the stories the first time I read them.)

21 thoughts on “Looking Back Closely

  1. This year since I learned how to close read I started to use it in other classes to help me understand texts better. I mainly used close reading in Humanities but for sure used it in Math so that it could be easier for me to understand the long word paragraphs. Sometimes when I feel like I could read the text and understand the whole thing, I don’t need to use close reading.

    -Karam K. Al-Siyaby

    • Karam, I’m glad to see you are using close reading in math. I almost always have to read math problems closely, especially the difficult ones. Keep doing that. And I’m glad you understand you do not need to close read everything. It’s only for the difficult, confusing or really important stuff!

  2. The subjects I used close reading in were humanities & math. In humanities when were reading Feed & Animal Farm, I would take sticky notes and I would re- read sentences if I didn’t understand them. I would also try to find the theme and ask questions. In math I would close read the problems, so I didn’t miss a step. If I didn’t close read during the books we read, I wouldn’t understand what was happening at all. If I didn’t do that in math I wouldn’t solve it the right way and I would be confused. I’m happy I close read because it helps me than just reading something and not understanding it.

    • Presha,
      These are great places to use close reading. I like how you’ve given such specific examples. Math is a great place for close reading. I think it always makes sense to close read math problems. Math problems are like poems in some ways: they are short and full of important information. If we don’t close read, we can miss important things. Keep up the good work.
      Mr. Creighton

  3. I used close reading in this past week, when we had to do a test that would actually affect my grade if I got the quiz below 80. Before I took this quiz I had an A+ basically, a 100 percent, and because me and math don’t really work so well, I felt REALLY good with the grade. I also used close reading yesterday when I had to write my reading response and I had to make sure it didn’t get mistakes. A time when I didn’t use close read, was the time that I read this article about a team that had to lose or win to win the championship. In think, that this doesn’t show close read because I’m only focused on the score of the game and how the player reacted, it wasn’t much of a difficult final exam.

    • Daniel,
      It sounds like you are using close reading in all the right places: when things are difficult and when things are important. I hope you continue to use close reading in these situations, because I think it will help your understanding (and your grades). It’s interesting that the example you gave of NOT close reading was one in which you already had a limited purpose: the score of the game, and how the players reacted to winning or loosing. If the reading is easy, and you have a clear purpose going into it, you probably don’t need to use close reading.
      Thanks,
      Mr. Creighton

  4. I definitely used close reading when I was taking my MAP test. It was very important To try my best so the teacher new what they could help me in class! I also used close reading on a long magazine article about the Religion. I was interested, but a little confused, because I don’t know anything about buddism all I know about it is that it’s a religion. I had to read several parts twice to find the answer to questions I had on my test. However, most of the time, I don’t use close reading when I read my favorite comic book because I memorized some parts.

    • Dear Carolina,
      Those are great places to use close reading. Your MAP test results in reading clearly showed that taking the extra time made a BIG difference for you. I’m glad to hear you are using close reading in Humanities also. Don’t forget to try it in math–problems are so short and full of information that it makes sense to read them closely!
      Regards,
      Mr. Creighton

  5. This year, I’ve done most close reading in humanities. I do close reading when there are instructions for big projects and I also do it while researching informations for the project because I don’t want to misread facts and end up presenting wrong information to the class. I don’t do close reading when I find long articles for the research because not every part of that would be important to know.

    • Annisa,
      This is so insightful:”I also do it while researching informations for the project because I don’t want to misread facts and end up presenting wrong information to the class. I don’t do close reading when I find long articles for the research because not every part of that would be important to know.”

      You don’t have to close read every single part of an article. But you definitely do want to read closely before you take a fact and present it to a wider audience!
      Thanks,
      Mr. Creighton

  6. I used close reading many times throughout the year. Prime examples include the reading ritual we did in humanities and the various tests and quizzes we took in humanities like feed and sound of thunder. I also used it a lot during our pop paper to gather as much information as I could about the topic. I do it so that when I am presented with a lot of information I can analyze and use the important parts while not wasting time gathering information.

    • Duncan,
      You were lucky to have Ms. Al Moreno as your Humanities teacher, because I know your class used close reading a lot. I can see you understand the important part of the routine and when to use it. Why not try it during math sometimes–or maybe you already do, without realizing it? (Also, remember to use upper case letters when writing the titles of books–I noticed, because I used the close reading routine on your comment!)
      Cheers,
      Mr. Creighton

  7. I do close reading most of the time in my humanities class this year. I usually get a lot of article which I also have to do a close reading because there are many important information that I should know for my homework, project or discussion in class. Sometimes, close reading really helps me to read and understand a very hard article or writing since I started it in academic support class.

    • Anis, I’m glad you are using close reading in Humanities. I wonder if you are alos using it in math and science, maybe without thinking about it. I find that math word problems are a great place to use my close reading routine!
      Mr. Creighton

  8. One day I was reading 39clues one false note and I didn’t uderstand how Dan got from point A to point. Then read it again and it made cents. When I didn’t do this in the frist book I got lost and I didn’t know what was going on.

    • Gregory,
      It is great to see such a specific example. You should absolutely use close reading when you don’t understand something the first time you read it!

      Mr. Creighton

  9. I used close reading in almost all my classes I mostly use in humanities, and in math because there’s always stuff to read in the board especially in humanities. And I use close reading to help me understand some thing that I don’t understand. I also think that we don’t always have to use close reading in everything

    • Lotso,
      I totally agree with you. Close reading can be helpful, but you don’t have to use it every time you read!

      Mr. Creighton

  10. I used close reading today because I did the end of the year test. I also use it in humanities when I check if my draft makes sense. I used it in those cases because I don’t want it wrong or mis-written.

  11. One day I was reading a really difficult book and I didn’t understand anything. On the next sag at school a get a really bad score on the essay about this book. After some time I learned about the close reading and helps me very much. When I’m having the problems I use to read twice and only then I can understand the plot of the story. I use the close reading in the Math and Humanities classes. When I was reading the information for a POP paper I used the closed reading, it helps me to get a good score. If I’m working with a documents it’s very important not to make a mistake, because it will cause a lot of the problems.
    Vlad Kislov

    • Vlad,
      I’m so glad to hear close reading is helping you. It is really important to use this with difficult books.
      Mr. Creighton

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