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Close Reading: Giving Students a Purpose for Repeated Reading

For teachers, close reading can sometimes feel intimidating.  With limited time, how can students complete meaningful readings AND respond?  To students, close reading can seem repetitive…and let's be honest, that's because it is!  It seems repetitive because close reading is reading the same text multiple times.  Students may feel bored or uninterested when they read the same text over and over.  Repeated readings can feel like a chore to them, which in turn feels like pulling teeth to the teacher!  Finding high-interest passages, using tools that are not only fun but also helpful, creating a consistent routine of close reading, and staying organized will help take the close reading pressure off of you and your students.  When you have the right materials and organization in place, close reading can become a thoughtful and careful analysis of the text.

close reading with purpose

Here are a few ways to keep close reading organized, interesting, and purposeful in your classroom.

Using Tools for Close Reading

Using specific tools for close reading will help students build their comprehension through careful readings of the text. When each reading tool has a purpose, each reading of the text also has a specific purpose. 

And of course, students want to use the tools!  When students are excited to use tools, then guess what?  They get excited to read too…even for the second (or third) time!  

foundational skills of reading

No matter the subject or project, teachers all know that students love having fun extras to use.  Whether it’s highlighters, sticky notes, or any other fun things you may have up your sleeve, they love to have something special. 

But they need to know how to use them, or you may end up with an entire page highlighted yellow…I'm sure you've had a few pages like this before, where every word is highlighted in a bright sea of yellow.  

Having things readily accessible for students to use and giving them a little bit of variety in the tools that are available will keep the otherwise boring task of repeated reading fun and fresh. 

reading tools and supplies

Reading Tools for Close Reading:

girl close reading text

Each of these reading tools has a purpose and falls into place with the first, second, and third readings of the text. When students are looking for the main idea in their first reading, they will find the magnifying glass. The second reading will use highlighters and pointers to find vocabulary and the third reading can include sticky notes and bookmarks.

You can keep these tools organized in an easy-to-move caddy so that students can grab them when they are working in groups.  A class set of supplies is easy because you are able to move the caddy from group to group and you can easily keep it organized and restock as needed. 

reading supply caddy

You might also like to make students their own close reading bags or toolkits.  You can simply use plastic bags, small plastic photo boxes, or pencil cases.

close reading student supplies

Setting Up Student Folders

To help keep students organized, each student can keep a close reading folder. When all of their materials are in one place students save time when getting started with their reading. They can easily locate the passage, response pages, and anything else they need to read closely.

Close reading materials

If your students work in small groups, each group can keep their folder in a small magazine holder.  

student reading folders

Having students keep their folders together as a group makes it easy to grab them when it is their time to read and also prevents the dreaded mess of folders in their desks.  It also makes it easier to check in with students' reading quickly to see how actively students are close reading, monitor how they are annotating the text, and determine if you need to revisit a concept. You can do a quick assessment of students’ progress and readjust your focus for the lessons that follow. 

teacher note page

Most times students don’t even know that you’re checking in, it’s a super quick informal assessment, and keeping their folders together helps everyone stay better organized.

What is in Their Folders?

There are a few things students can keep right in their folders from week to week. The supplies that stay in their folders serve as a reference and can be used no matter the text or topic. Student bookmarks and reference books are examples of reference tools that can be used each day as students close read.  

reading folder labels

A close reading reference book should lay out the purpose for each reading.  When the purpose for reading is clear and students have it right at their fingertips, it makes the repetitive reading not-so-repetitive anymore!  With each reading, students have a new set of eyes on the text; the first reading is the main idea, the second reading is vocab and text structure, and the third reading is comprehension through inferencing, theme, and author's craft.  

close reading flipbook

Close reading bookmarks can have text annotating marks on them so students are able to annotate the text with meaning.  It may be fun to mark up the text, but it needs to be meaningful marking!  Sticky notes are also a helpful tool so that students can write down their thoughts and questions as they read.  

close reading bookmarks

I put together a complete close reading starter kit just for you, with everything that you need to get started, get organized, and get reading! You can find a close reading passage with three days of response pages for each repeated reading, student folder labels, group labels, teacher checklists, a quick note-taking sheet for check-ins, supply labels, and more!

free close reading starter pack

I hope you found some great ideas that will help your students find the purpose (and some fun) for each repeated reading of a text.

You can find all of my favorite close reading materials and supplies here:

close reading supplies

Check out the resources featured in this post:

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Happy Teaching!

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