Lesson plan

Close Reading: Introduction

Help your students absorb the details of a text and make inferences about what they read with the strategy of close reading. By reading closely, students will become better able to understand complex themes and nuances in a text.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Close Reading Strategy pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Close Reading Strategy pre-lesson.

Students will be able to understand that close reading is a strategy that helps them read with a focus in order to deepen comprehension.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(2 minutes)
  • Begin by telling the class that today, they will be learning about close reading.
  • Activate prior knowledge by asking students to think of a time they were doing something they did frequently, but weren’t really paying attention. For example, ask them to imagine they are riding in a car with other people.
    • What are those people doing?
    • Are they playing on their phones, watching television, or falling asleep?
  • Explain that when people don’t pay attention to the details around them, they often miss out on small things. For example, if people in the car paid attention to scenery around them, they’d learn things about their destination, the road, and the world around them.
  • Tell students that finding enjoyment in everyday things often comes from looking at the details, and this applies to reading.
  • Explain that when the best readers read, they don’t do it on autopilot. Instead, they read carefully and absorb all of the small details that the author has to offer. These readers are close readers.
  • Share that, by becoming close readers, they’ll be able to pay attention to details in the book, and pick up as much information as possible from the text.
(13 minutes)
  • Tell the class that they will be learning about the close reading strategy today. Describe close reading as a strategy used by readers, to help them view a text through a certain lens, which is used to find patterns in the text. Students can use these patterns to develop a deeper understanding of the texts they read.
  • Show a collection of five to 10 images of professional soccer players. Tell students that you’d like them to “read” the images closely, and focus on the emotion each player portrays.
  • Model "reading" the first image by focusing on the player's emotion. Point out the clues that guide you to your conclusion, such as facial expressions and body language.
  • Engage students in a discussion about the emotions they see in the other images. Ask the following questions:
    • What emotions does this player have?
    • How can you determine these emotions?
    • What facial expressions does he have?
    • What do you notice about his body?
    • What tells you if he is sad/angry/upset/happy/excited?
  • Create a T-chart on the board, and label the left side as "Emotions" and the right side as "Clues". Go through the images and record the emotions and clues on the chart.
(15 minutes)
  • Create a new T-chart on the board, with columns labeled as "Character Observations" and "Clues".
  • Display a fictional picture book and explain that your focus will be on learning about the main characters by looking at their thoughts, feelings, dialogue, and actions.
  • Read aloud the text and point out instances where you learn more about the character. Record this information on the T-chart.
  • Put students into small groups of three to four students, and guide the class through a second read aloud of the text. Stop periodically to allow for group discussion.
  • Instruct the small groups to discuss additional information to put on the T-chart.
(20 minutes)
  • Direct students to create their own version of the T-chart in their Reading Notebooks.
  • Distribute a copy of the Sugar and Spice worksheet to each student, and instruct them to read the text independently. Tell them to record their observations about the characters, based on thoughts, feelings, dialogue, and actions, on the T-chart. Remind learners to include a clue for each observation.
  • Assist the students with their observations.
  • Enrichment: Challenge students to use the T-chart to analyze multiple characters in their independent reading books. Encourage them to look at character motivations and relationships, in addition to thoughts, feelings, dialogue, and actions.

  • Support: Arrange students who need extra help in a small group to work on their T-charts.Chunk the text for struggling readers on the Sugar and Spice worksheet.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to discuss what patterns they observed in the text.
  • Hand out a sticky note to each student and instruct them to copy one of the following questions on it that they wish to answer:
    • Why is close reading helpful?
    • What did you learn about a character in one of the texts you read today?
    • What did you like best about close reading?
    • How could close reading be helpful as you read nonfiction texts?
  • Direct students to answer one of the questions and then put their completed sticky notes in a designated place in the classroom.
(5 minutes)
  • Discuss student answers on the sticky notes.
  • Explain that as close readers, students can read through the “emotion lens” of characters. Discussion questions include: What do you notice a character looks or acts like when he or she is happy? Disappointed? Excited? What causes these things? What type of things do characters say when they feel these emotions?
  • Remind the class that good readers read closely, through different lenses. Encourage them to continue practicing reading through "character emotion" by questioning what characters think, feel, say, and do.

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