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Close Reading Knowledge Building

By Jessica Aggrey
Collaborative Learning

I recall a colleague once saying that students are capable of understanding far more together than they are able to individually. I’ve seen the truth of that statement played out in my classes over and over with collaborative learning activities such as The Schema Jigsaw Grid, the Vocabulary Knowledge Share, and Quote Search Posters.

Last semester I learned about the Close Reading Folders activity that has student work together to unpack and summarize key passages of a text. I love this activity because it gets students to work together to deepen their understanding.

Since I used it once this semester already, I wanted to come up with another way to have students focus in and unpack passages from a text together. Read on to see what I did at two different levels I teach:

One Level Below Transfer (Advanced)

  1. I selected five key paragraphs from a reading we’re working on in class.
  2. I copied and cut each passage out.
  3. I then taped each one on an 11X17 piece of paper.
  4. I put students into groups of 4-5 (In hindsight, I think 3-4 would be better)
  5. I gave each group 7 minutes with each passage to read, discuss, and write notes about on the paper.
  6. After each round, I rotated each paper to new group. See the directions I gave each group and images from my class below.

Three Levels Below Transfer (High-beginning/Low-Advanced)

In our first accelerated academic level, we’re reading the book Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. Although it’s a short book, each chapter is packed with idioms and expressions that can make it challenging for students to understand.

After reading a particularly difficult chapter, I selected sentences that I knew would be hard for for my students. I wrote them on the whiteboards around the room (poster paper would also work if you don’t have a lot of whiteboard space). I then had groups of three go around to read, discuss, and write notes about each sentences.

As students went around, they were able to work together to better understand each sentence, and they got conversation practice at the same time. My students seemed to enjoy the activity.

Writing on whiteboard
Writing on whiteboard
writing on whiteboard

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