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Close Reading Steps for Your Upper Elementary Classroom

I’m sure you’ve all heard of it…close reading. But what exactly is it, and how does it work? When I first started implementing close reading in my classroom, you should’ve heard the groans! And who could blame them? Read a passage 2-3 times? What? Why? Nooooooooo! In this post, I will cover what exactly close reading is and the steps you can take to implement it in your classroom.

What is close reading?

Close reading is when you read a text multiple times to understand the purpose of the text more deeply. It helps students gain a better understanding of a new text by reading it numerous times.

Benefits of Close Reading
  • It helps students understand text structure better and consider why the author chose one format over another.
  • It helps students learn what the author does with the words and why he/she does it.
  • It helps students learn how to tackle challenging texts to learn new information.
Why should we close read?
  • It helps kids learn how to tackle new, unfamiliar, and sometimes difficult texts.
  • It helps students “dig deeper” into the text.
  • It helps students find text-based evidence for answers to questions.

Close Reading Steps

So, these close reading steps can be adjusted depending on your time frame for completing a close reading passage. A minimum of 2 readings of the passage is ideal. When I implement a writing prompt with the passage, I have them read through it a third time to best respond to the prompt. This does not have to be done all in one sitting but can be spread out over multiple days or throughout the week. It can be done in a whole group or a small group. Ideally, you will have multiple levels of the text to meet the levels of all students in the classroom. Sign up below for a jam-packed free download with many close reading resources and practice passage.

  1. Find an appropriate text: Text should be complex and on or above grade level. It should be engaging for students since they must read it multiple times.
  2. Pre-reading: Focus on their thinking by having them read all of the questions connected to the text and make some predictions based on the title and pictures. Have them number the paragraphs.
  3. 1st Read: Have students read the text for the first time and focus on what the text is saying. They should annotate or mark up the text while reading using the “Mark It Up” symbols printable. Create questions for this reading that are surface level or questions that are “right there.”
  4. 2nd Read: Have students re-read the text. Now that they know what the text says, have them focus on how the text says it. They should annotate or mark up the text while reading using the “Mark It Up” symbols printable. Create questions for this level that are more in-depth and discuss the author’s purpose, text structure, inferencing, or questions that are not just right there in the passage and require additional thought.
  5. 3rd Read: They should re-read the text again if time permits. Now that they know what the text says and how it says it, they should focus on the meaning of the text. They should think about the ways they can connect with the text. They should annotate or mark up answers to the questions while reading using the “Mark It Up” symbols printable.
  6. Write & Respond: Students should respond to an open-ended, text-dependent writing prompt using specific details from the passage.

Want to read more about how I make close reading engaging for my students? Click here.

Need some passages that do all of that for you?

Check out my line of close reading passages where I take all the guesswork out for you. Click here to see all of the topics available. Each set of these close reads includes 3 differentiated texts to help you meet the needs of all of your learners. Pictured below are a few sets I have available. See all available sets here.

Presidents' Day Reading Comprehension Passages with Mystery Grid Pictured
March Reading Comprehension Passages with Mystery Grid Pictured
Carnival Themed Reading Comprehension Passages with Mystery Grid Pictured

Features of the Close Reading Sets

  • Teacher pages that include some tips and tricks for making the most of this resource. I find it’s better to have them check their answer BEFORE coloring so that there are no mistakes once they get to the grid. Printing at 90% is a great option if you need more margin space.
  • Student pages that show students how to interact with the text. I provided one version done for you and another where students can fill in their own annotation marks. You could even use stickers or colors for this!
  • 3 differentiated versions of the text.
    • Square is the lowest level. (approx. 700-850 Lexile)
    • Circle is the middle level. (approx. 850-1000 Lexile)
    • Triangle is the highest level. (approx. 1000-1100 Lexile)
  • 2 options for text-dependent questions: The first set has the colors for you if you want to utilize the mystery grid picture. The second set is for use without the mystery grid.
    • 5 first read questions that are surface-level
    • 5 second read questions that require students to dig deeper
  • Mystery grid pictures for each passage are optional but a fun way to encourage students to read again and look for answers in the text. They don’t want to color their picture incorrectly.
  • Writing prompts that include text-dependent analysis questions for students to respond to.
  • Graphic organizers for students to use while reading the text.
  • Answer keys to make checking answers quick and easy! If you use the mystery grids, they are practically self-checking.

Check out my close reading passages with mystery grid pictures by clicking here. Available in both holiday and topic themes.

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