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Brainy Apples: Close Reads Meets Interactive Notebooks
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Close Reads Meets Interactive Notebooks

If you are like me, you love learning about new strategies and tools you can implement in your classroom. Sometimes, though, I find myself wondering how to logically "marry" two ideas so that I can use both of them because I love them both so much.

If you have been reading my blog, then you know how much I really love Close Reads. I began implementing Close Reads last year, and I found my students were able to read more rigorous texts and truly understand the many facets of the text without my support over time. I have been using Interactive Notebooks for many years, although I didn't call them Interactive Notebooks (thanks to 4mulafun for finally giving me a cool name for these notebooks....I just called then study notebooks. Blah! How fun is that name????) So, last year, as I implemented Close Reads, I began thinking about how I could also keep my study notebooks Interactive Notebooks in use, too. It took a little bit of trial-and-error, but I was finally able to create an Interactive Notebook for Close Reads (INCR) that I actually fell in love with. I couldn't imagine NOT using them!

What is the difference between an Interactive Reading Notebook and an Interactive Notebook for Close Reads?
My previous Interactive Reading Notebooks were a place for my students to learn the different reading skills and strategies. If the focus was on main idea and key details, this page in their notebooks would explain what main idea and key details are, how to determine the main idea and key details in a text, and an example. So as my students learned more reading skills, their notebooks began to fill up with definitions and examples. Perfect for my students to refer to if they needed a reminder.

However, I wanted my students to be able to refer to HOW to analyze a text. And I also realized that my previous notebooks, while they were very helpful for students to remember the different reading skills, didn't provide many opportunities for students to engage with a specific text, nor did the examples of the reading skills really require my students to think at a higher level. So I began working on a notebook that would serve as a reminder for students of specific reading skills, but would also require my students to think at a higher level and interact with a text. As my students did Close Reads, I also ran into the issue of how to keep up with their work. I always kept a reading portfolio for each student, but when we began doing more and more Close Reads and less and less typical reading comprehension tests, it became difficult to keep the text excerpts and their responses organized and easily accessible for conferences and grading purposes. So I also wanted this notebook to be an on-going portfolio that would show student growth through multiple opportunities and keep all the artifacts neatly organized.

The Interactive Notebook for Close Reads I created became a multi-functional notebook that:
1. became a resource for students to refer to as a reminder of HOW to analyze a text.
2. provided multiple opportunities for students to interact with a text at a higher level.
3. could be used as a reading portfolio that included the specific reading standard, text excerpt, and student response, and I could track their progress (or lack thereof) over time.
4. became an efficient communication tool between parents and myself.

Here are a few pics of how these INCR look on the inside:

So far I have been very happy with the marriage of Close Reads and Interactive Notebooks. I created an Interactive Notebook for Close Reads Beginner's Kit for teachers who want to marry the two, but aren't quite sure how and need a little but of help getting started. I also created an Interactive Notebook for Close Reads of Informational Texts for 5th Grade for teachers who are already comfortable with Close Reads and/or Interactive Notebooks and are ready to take the plunge. I am currently have an INCR for grades 2-5 for Informational Texts, and will be adding grades 1-2 and 6-8 soon. I will also be adding grades 1-8 INCR for Literature.


What do you think about integrating Close Reads and Interactive Notebooks? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Thanks for reading!
**Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)

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  1. I'm working on this with my class this year too! I feel like it's in the infancy stage because I'm learning how to do both INB and Close Reads at the same time, so my inserts are heavy on the text and lacking in the graphics department, but it's working really well so far. :) I teach fourth grade and we use Journeys. I feel like I'm getting better written responses already!

  2. I look at it like baby steps :) I always started off with less "fancy" organizers until I felt like my students knew what I expected of them. Then we slowly graduated to the "fancier" ones when I felt like the quality of their responses wouldn't be lessened from them trying to figure out how to use the organizers or how to respond. I also love having a record of their progress to show all of us how far they come along during the school year :)

  3. Wow! We are just starting up with CCSS in my district and haven't had any direction. I've read a few books, but still don't have a handle on things. I am VERY interested in the 4th grade notebook you're working on...I like glue, cute, and marrying close reading with interactive notebooks! Yippee!!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! I love to be standards-based, but if it isn't fun and cute, I get bored, too :) The 4th grade notebook will be ready is getting proofed right now! :)

  4. New Subby here!! I do both the INB and Close Reading, but hadn't thought about combining them. GREAT Product!!! Can't wait to see the 3rd grade one! THANKS!!!