Tag Archives : differentiation

Close Reading Made Simple

Why Close Reading?

So what happens when students can’t access the grade-level text in your class? With the extreme diversity of students in any given classroom this is a given. If you have not jumped on the “Close Reading” Bandwagon it is not too late! Even though education goes through trends like the fashion industry, close reading is here to stay. It is not just for the English-Language Arts teacher either. Social studies, science, and math are using this technique too. With the increased rigor that is expected in the CCSS and the new science standards it is impossible for teachers not to utilize this valuable tool. So how do you do it? There are tons of resources available for all content areas and levels of educators; however, I like to keep it simple. Regardless of what grade level the students are at I like to tell them that if they are going to underline or highlight something that they must make an annotation in the margins.

Why are they highlighting it?

I model on a simple piece of text and give them examples that they can easily relate to. We all know that students love to highlight 3/4 of the text and then they get to the end and can’t tell you one thing that the text was about. That is because they are so busy highlighting everything in pretty colors that they fail to retain anything that they are reading. Another way to circumvent this is to chunk the text for them. I always have students number the paragraphs of the text so it is easy to reference back to when answering text-dependent questions. Close reading is not something that should be done with a really long piece of text. It fails to become effective after 3-4 pages. It becomes really effective when used with 1-2 pages of text. The next step I have students do is write a one-sentence summary after each paragraph. This helps develop their synthesizing and analysis skills. For students that are at the lower grade levels, or for students that need differentiation I give them sentence frames to summarize.

Emojis-Why not?

Teachers all have a different view on doodling and making pictures on packets. I say…”Why NOT?” Some students that are not going to be good at summarizing or analyzing the text might be successful by using Emojis to help them annotate the text. Students that struggle with reading might increase their comprehension if they highlighted or underlined the text and added an emoji in the margins to help them remember what is important. For example, using a lightbulb for a main idea in a paragraph will allow those students that love to draw and doodle a constructive outlet when they are closely reading a text. If it is a detail that excites them then have them put a smily emoji. Students love Emojis! Have them funnel their creative abilities into their close reading techniques. This will help those students remain engaged while allowing them to use their skills in a constructive way. It may also help decrease the amount of doodling that takes place on your tables and/or desks!

Keeping Gifted Students Engaged

To ensure that you are meeting all levels of learners in your classroom, including those at the highest level, have students create their own system of annotating text! This allows them to develop a system that make sense to them and keep them challenged and engaged. The bonus part of this strategy is that sometimes they come up with a system that can be used by other classmates. Students never cease to amaze me their ability to create concepts that never occur to me. It has to do with their developing minds! I have had students explain the most complex details to another students in a simple way that helps them understand. Their method of communicating the concept never occurred to me but it works more effectively than the method I was using. This is also the miracle of teaching!

In Summary

In my opinion, there is not a “right” or “wrong” way to do close reading. Don’t get caught up in the idea of right and wrong. I tell my students that it is a personalize experience that needs to make sense to them. As long as they are reading the text more than once, and reading it for a different purpose that forces them to dig deeper into the text it is fine. You might be surprise on the creative ways that the students come up with to deeply interact with the text. I often find myself taking away different bits of information that did not occur to me during the first read. Rereading is a gift that needs to be shared with your students. They deserve to understand text on a deeper level in order to enjoy it! Remember that the work that you do is priceless and you are appreciated! Don’t forgot to leave your comments! I enjoy reading them!

February Teacher Talk

Posted by Deann Marin of Socrates Lantern

Welcome to our February Teacher Talk.  All of us from the Teacher Talk collaborative would like wish you a Happy Valentines Day.  We have so many fab things this month from Field Trips and ELA and reading ideas, to celebrating Black History Month and President’s Day, you don’t want to miss reading these blog posts from some awesome educators. If you’re interested in joining this unique group of teacher entrepreneurs
and blogging buddies and our blog linky, sign up here….
The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative.
 If you decide to join, be sure to mention one of our names.


 Adding more to the air than love this February.

Ya Gotta Love Field Trips or Not!
By Deann Marin of Socrates Lantern

I was inspired to write this blog post after listening to my 3 podcast buddies tell about their Field Trip Follies: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, on our podcast, We Teach So Hard. I, too have stories to tell. So pull up a chair, sip some wine and read on… 

Black History Month Celebration
By Michelle Webb of Teaching Ideas For Those Who Love Teaching

 Showcase your students’ learning with a black history month celebration. Show your students learning creatively, inviting parents along the way. 

Design a Monster: A Makerspace Activity
By Laura Cripe of Under One Roof 

 Makerspace activities are all the rage these days. Learn how my kids used our makerspace to design and create their own Halloween monster. This is the perfect activity for elementary students who are too excited about Halloween to do any kind of regular school work.

How to Choose Between Eager of Anxious
By Charlene Tess of Charlene Tess

 Be sure to say what you mean when choosing between “eager” and “anxious.”

 Writing with Colors
 I’ve found that using colors when writing on the whiteboard can be helpful in multiple ways. Colors can be used to create associations in the minds of learners, and the more you repeat the same method of color usage, the more those associations will strengthen in the learners’ minds. Using these associations, students are quicker to find mistakes or identify what they’re supposed to do.
Is Dyslexia a Gift?
 Can dyslexia be considered a gift? Read this post before you decide.
Put Your Heads Together to Brainstorm
Brainstorming can be an intimidating and daunting task for many students.  It’s hard for young writers to come up with ideas for a topic without having a lot of life experience.  It is necessary to brainstorm WITH your students in the beginning, then gradually hand over the responsibility to students once you have taught them strategies and skills to use.
Valentine Tabletop Decoration Gift for the Family
 Your older elementary(gr.4+) can make this beautiful Valentine tabletop decoration gift for their family. Part construction/part craft, the kids will enjoy making this project. It even lights up.  
Differentiation in the Classroom
By Marcy Howe of It’s a Teacher Thing

Differentiating in your classroom can be a lot easier than you may think. Learn five easy ways to differentiate in your 4th through 8th grade classroom and help all students succeed.

By Lisa Robles of LisateachR’s Classroom

  Here’s your go-to for some Valentine’s help!!

3 Questions to Get You Through Teacher Evaluation Season
By Tracy Willis of Wild Child Designs 

 It’s that time of year…You’re going to be observed and evaluated. What will you teach? Sometimes, it feels like a dog and pony show. These 3 questions will help you authentically reflect on your growth.


 Tried & True Bookmaking: Pop-Up Book

 By Kathie Yonemura of Tried and True Teaching Tools

Here’s an oldie but a goodie: the pop-up book. Kids (and adults) never get tired of making these because there are so many options for creativity.

Inlinkz Link Party

Blog with your Class

Blogging with your class is fun.  Students have the opportunity to write for a worldwide audience, research, learn technology, and share their learningBlog Guide Cover with the world.

This guide gives teachers time-saving tools, checklists, assessment forms, parent communication, and student contracts.

Additionally, there are 99 differentiated writing prompts.  The teacher or the student can choose a “mild,” “medium,” or “extra spicy” variation on a topic.  Use the tic tac toe board to encourage students to challenge themselves.

The differentiated topics make great mini-lesson topics, and they are perfect for the student that loves to play with technology in creative ways.

Check out this resource on Just Add Students

Get started blogging with your class!