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Brainy Apples: Close Read Linky Party!
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Close Read Linky Party!

I am SO excited that today is finally here! Today is the day for my first monthly Close Read Linky Party. My goal through hosting this monthly linky party is to help you find our more information on Close Reads and tips/suggestions from teachers who have done Close Reads. I contributed a blog post to All Things Upper Elementary months ago, so if you haven't read it yet, I suggest reading it first because I am not going to repeat any of that information. That post was all an overview of what Close Reads are, how to implement them, and why you should be doing Close Reads. I want this monthly linky party to focus more on the details of Close Reads including bumps in implementation as well as suggestions I (and other bloggers who link up) found helpful through trial and error :)

I would love if you linked up a blog post you have written about Close Reads to this party. The rules are pretty simple: any blog post about Close Reads is welcome. Please only link up to a blog post, not to a product. It is a-OK to mention a product in your own blog post and link to it via your blog, but please don't link to a product through this linky. Just follow the instructions below to use linkinz to link up!

Let's Go!
I am going to make this post about the question I hear the most from teachers who have yet to implement Close Reads because I think you have to come to your own decision before you can commit to implementing Close Reads- Which do you do: leveled reading groups or Close Reads?

Leveled Reading Groups or Close Reads???
My answer: I do both. I do both every single day. I know how crammed for time we are in our school days. It seems like there is never enough time to get it all in, but this is one of my non-negotiables. I firmly believe that EVERY child should be reading on his/her level EVERY single day WITH an adult. I accomplish this through my leveled reading groups, so I would never give up my leveled reading groups. Some years I have had so many different levels in my class, it has been difficult to get them all in. Some years I have been lucky enough to recruit a parent volunteer for each day of the week so I have one more person in my room during this time to read with a group. I train these parents on how I run a leveled reading group, and then I trust them. I have a schedule of who reads with which group so I know I am still reading with every child at least 4 times a week, with my parent volunteers reading with them my off day. Some years I have been lucky enough where my students were similar levels so I didn't have 7 reading groups to meet with each day. And yet other years, when I had a lot of reading groups but no parent volunteers, I had to let go of reading with every child every day, and I took my 2 highest reading groups who were reading above grade level and I flip-flopped reading with them each day. The day they weren't with me they were working on their literature circle role. The day they met with me I made sure to let them share their findings so they knew they were going to be held accountable during this time.

Now, with Close Reads, I do this EVERY day with EVERY child. The delivery model may vary from whole group to small group, depending on what I have planned for that day. I will say that I don't have a chunk of time in my day devoted to whole group reading. Instead, I have a 45-50 minute block for science or social studies and I integrate reading into these subjects. I have my science or social studies standards listed AND I have the reading standards we are also working on. I find integration is much like a puzzle, trying to figure out how each piece can fit together without being forced. I LOVE it! This chunk of time is where most of my Close Reading takes place. Once students get to middle grades, their content areas will have many reading standards integrated, so students need to begin to see reading as a part of every subject and not just during small groups or reading time. I will say that I was lucky in that I did not HAVE to use a basal program. There was one available, but I chose not to use it. I am big on setting my purpose first, and THEN choosing a text. My purpose will not be because the text is in my basal reader or it is easy to access. I choose texts from the library, leveled book room, ebooks,  and national archives among others. I will be doing a blog post later about the national archives- living history at its finest and what better way to bring authentic documents into your classroom??!! Teaching reading standards WHILE learning about science and social studies concepts can add time to your day! OK, it won't actually "add" time to your day, but your minutes will stretch further :) Even on experiment days you can implement a Close Read. Students need to be reading those experiment directions closely, right?

Yes, this is a delicate balancing act, getting the times to work and not feel like you are having to rush. I was lucky in that I didn't have a lot of dead time in my day. My lunch, specials, and recess were all backed up to each other with no more than 10 minutes in between each one, so that definitely helped me be able to fit it all in. If you are having a hard time with scheduling, drop a comment below and hopefully myself or another blogger will be able to offer some help!

Give Yourself Some Time
I think one of the most important things to keep in mind, is to give yourself AND your students time to acclimate to Close Reads. Don't rush in and try to do it all at once. Maybe start off by doing a Close Read with just one reading group a day. Or if you do have a whole group reading time, try implementing a Close Read once or twice a week during this time block. It is better to start slowly and become comfortable than try to do it all at once, hit a few stumbling blocks, and then get frustrated. Close Reads CAN be integrated with what you are already doing. It needn't be an EXTRA thing you have to do. If you give yourself time, you will come to see that it will become a part of your leveled reading group or content area block without even thinking. At first you will have to deliberately choose the questions to ensure you are asking students those higher-level questions, but once you are seamlessly implementing Close Reads, those questions will come a lot easier...and the answers will come easier for your students, too!

Next Time!
For our next Close Reading Party, I am going to focus on some of the issues I ran into with my students...mainly the deer in headlights, have no clue what to say issues, and how I was able to help my students overcome this huge obstacle of elaborating on their answers!

Close Read Tip of the Day
Several days a week I will be posting a Close Read Tip of the Day on my Facebook page. These will be quick tips/suggestions that I found helpful and hope you will, too!

Interactive Notebook Meets Close Reads
Interactive Notebooks are becoming more popular these days, and so are Close Reads. I have not found a lot of resources available for Close Reads, so I decided to create an Interactive Notebook for Close Reads (INCR) that merges the two, and I am currently working on grade-level specific, informational text and literature, editions, too, for grades 3-6. The INCR I have currently is a Beginner's Kit. The interactive organizers are not fancy. They are to the point because the purpose of this product is to help your students learn how to read closely and aid you in helping your students read closely. You can find this product in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. The most popular item in my store is my Question Stems for Close Reads of Literature and Informational Text. This product is a great starting point to creating your Close Read questions. Each question stem has the CCSS anchor standard, Webb's Depth of Knowledge level, and Bloom's Taxonomy level. Teachers in grades 1-6 have found this product a springboard for creating their own questions. Last, I have my 5th Grade Interactive Notebook for Close Reads of Informational Texts ready to go!

Questions? Thoughts to Share?
Please feel free to leave a comment below! I welcome any and all comments, and if you have a question about anything pertaining to Close Reads, please ask away! Is there something specific you would like to read about? Let me know!

I had a lot of fun today discussing Close Reads, and I hope you were able to take away some new information. I can't wait until next time! October 18th!

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I do have some EXCITING news! I am going to be offering a free LIVE webinar next week! I will offer one training on Wednesday, July 27, and one more on Thursday, July 28. Both will be at 8pm EST. You can sign up {here} or the image below to save your seat. I hope to see you there!
Thanks for reading!
**Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)

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  1. Hi Heather!
    This is a fantastic linky! Mostly due to the fact that because of it I am now familiar with your blog. You have some wonderful ideas, and I look forward to learning more about the national archive and your close read interactive notebook.
    I have several blogposts on close reading, and I linked one of them up here. Thanks for the opportunity!

  2. Hey Darlene! Thanks so much for linking up! I am excited to read your post about Close Reads. Heading over there now! :)