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A Close Reading protocol for thinking critically and making connections while reading, especially helpful for reading challenging texts


Each of these steps can be completed as a whole class, in a small group, or individually. You might want to start with a whole class reading and then move into individual reading and group discussion.

At each step of the process, students should also be asked to “read with their pencil” and mark up the text where they find evidence for their responses.

In the first step, reading ON the lines is focused on understanding the text at the surface level. Read the text aloud while students follow along and mark with their pencil words and phrases that reveal the main idea of the text. After reading, start with questions like, “what was this about? What happened at the beginning? How did it end?”

After this first reading, define confusing words that may need clarification in order to avoid confusion for students. Other unfamiliar words or ideas students may be able to uncover as they reread.

Next, have students read the text again silently or with a partner. The purpose here is to begin reading between the lines. Focus on just one or two focus areas for students to think about and annotate as they read. This step can be repeated multiple times, each time with a different focus for reading.

The third step is to read through the lines. This is where we ask students to make conclusions, evaluate, and analyze. Ask the students to make connections between the reading, other texts and prior knowledge.


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