Close Reading: How to Engage Students in Literature

The idea of close reading seemed silly to me when I heard about it over a decade ago. I literally thought it meant you looked closely at the words. LOL

Sometimes the words we use in education can grate on your nerves. We rarely call things what they are. Why not say a more in-depth look at literature or information. Why do you have to call it close reading? Either way, I have since stopped laughing. I believe a deeper dive into text can be and is a truly magical experience. (I’m still not a fan of the title close reading, but I love the idea behind the words.)

When we take kids through a journey of text, it is important to remember like most things we do and see, we don’t always get it the first time around. That’s the beauty of close reading. There are ample opportunities to discover things we didn’t notice the first time. For instance, going back and taking a look at the point of view can be eye-opening to readers. We often read the words at a surface level, but when we think beyond the words and really imagine who is telling the story and how that impacts the events, we are going beyond basic comprehension. I love to talk about a shared experience with my kids. We then discuss what each person remembers. All the details. It is always amazing to us all how different the story is. I use that to explain the point of view. When students reflect and discuss how the story would be different or alike if told by another character, they are really invested in the broader aspects of understanding.

So yes, I have become a huge fan of close reading. I also love that you can use a shared text to cover multiple standards. Oh, the possibilities!

I am also a big fan of high engagement and making learning fun. So when I discovered makerspace, I was hooked. If you need more information on makerspace check out my blog series beginning with 5 Astonishing Reasons Every Classroom Needs a Makerspace.

Here is an expert from 5 Astonishing Reasons Every Classroom Needs a Makerspace

A Makerspace is a metaphor for a unique learning environment that encourages tinkering, play and open-ended exploration for all” ~Laura Fleming, author of Worlds of Making

Makerspace mixes all aspects of STEM- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and sprinkles it with hands-on experiences, imagination, and discovery. It truly can be engaging to the senses.

The beauty of encouraging hands-on learning is how this style of learning is so impactful for children who think outside of the box. When you bring literature into the mix, you can also capture all learning styles and topics

Immersing your students in maker activities motivates them to create. Tying maker challenges to standards allow them to learn in a unique discovery type manner. {It also gets admin off your back when they walk through and think you are having too much fun. (Is there any such thing when you are learning?!} 

So I recently created a new makerspace moment in literature with a loose connection to STEM. I know the value of integrating all the subjects. Yet, sometimes I think it is essential to focus on the problem solving and critical thinking skills that makerspace provides. When you can incorporate math and science even better.

In my newest makerspace moment. I took an adorable story about a rock that cannot roll. Ricky the Rock that Couldn’t Roll. This story is perfect for an introduction into characteristics of rocks. It is also a great story to express the theme of overcoming obstacles with perseverance.

Creating an engineering response with planning, designing, creating, reflecting, and revising also brings a high level of engagement into your close reading activity.

After going through multiple standards (I always include a variety of standards from which to choose), we are ready for the makerspace magic. The first thing we do is sort rocks by characteristics (a 2nd grade science standard). They quickly realize that many rocks can’t roll, just like Ricky. They see that if a rock has a flat side, they tend to slide down, but not roll.

MakerSpace Moments in Literature are a great way to incorporate makerspace and literature into your classroom. #makerspace #makerspacemomentsinliterature

Now the fun begins! This is where students are given a challenge to create a modification to the rock to help it roll properly down an incline. The solutions are endless.

Close Reading: How to Engage Students in Literature

Making close reading more engaging for kids brings literature and informational text alive. Leave a comment letting me know how you bring excitement to your reading block?

Until next time,

Happy Teaching and Learning!