Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Falling In Love With Close Reading - Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts

Summary:  "Love brings us in close, leads us to study the details of a thing, and asks us to return again and again. These are the motivations and ideas that built this book."
-Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts
You and your students will fall for close reading. In Falling in Love with Close Reading, Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts show us that it can be rigorous, meaningful, and joyous. You'll empower students to not only analyze texts but to admire the craft of a beloved book, study favorite songs and videogames, and challenge peers in evidence-based discussions.
Chris and Kate start with a powerful three-step close-reading ritual that students can apply to any text. Then they lay out practical, engaging lessons that not only guide students to independence in reading texts closely but also help them transfer this critical, analytical skill to media and even the lives they lead.

Responsive to students' needs and field-tested in classrooms, these lessons include:
  • strategies for close reading narratives, informational texts, and arguments
  • suggestions for differentiation
  • sample charts and student work from real classrooms
  • connections to the Common Core State Standards
  • a focus on viewing media and life in this same careful way.
"We see the ritual of close reading not just as a method of doing the academic work of looking closely at text-evidence, word choice, and structure," write Chris and Kate, "but as an opportunity to bring those practices together to empower our students to see the subtle messages in texts and in their lives." Read Falling in Love with Close Reading and discover that the benefits and joy of close reading don't have to stop at the edge of the page.  (Summary from Amazon.com and image from readingyear.blogspot.com)
My Review:  I highly recommend this book to any educator, and most specifically to English Language Arts teachers.  I believe any teacher could get something out of this book if they are forward thinkers who understand how literacy is relevant to all content areas.

This book breaks down how to start the process of close reading and then takes it quite a bit further into more complex ways to close read a text.  Close reading is something adults do naturally, especially those who have pursued higher education.  What adults often forget is that this process is one that isn't innate.  Many students need help with the concept that you learn something from a text each time you read it, and more specifically when you read it with a specific lens in mind.

There are a few key features I'd like to point out: 1) Each chapter goes in depth with a type of lens a teacher could focus on for a period of time. 2) Within this chapter Lehman and Roberts talk specifically about how this lens would work for fiction and nonfiction. 3) At the end of each chapter there are suggestions for extensions (for your gifted or accelerated students) as well as scaffolds for your lower level students or English Language Learners. 4) Lastly, the book gives validation for how close reading is a life-long skill, something that is a benefit to everyone if developed and nurtured at a young age.

If you're looking for something to bring clarity around this new buzz word 'Close Reading', please pick up this book!  I think you'll walk away with deeper understanding and the reassurance that this is something you can do with your students, no matter the age.

Rating: 5 stars

Sum it up: A teacher's go-to for trying to understand close reading.

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