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Brainy Apples: September 2013
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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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Blogging Day Over at All Things Upper Elementary!

Hey guys! Today is my blogging day over at All Things Upper Elementary's blog. I decided to write about something near and dear to my heart: integrating reading into the content areas. Today I wrote specifically about social studies. I hope you will hope on over and check it out. It is perfect for those of you who haven't tried integrating reading into social studies, who aren't quite sure where to start, who have tried but haven't hit your groove yet, or who do integrate but need some fresh ideas.

Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!

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

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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!

***If you liked what you read please consider subscribing to my email list. You will receive free goodies, blog posts, and updates right to your inbox! Just click here to join.

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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**If you want to show the blog hop on your blog, click here for the code. If not, just link up using the link below :)**

Want to Come to a Close Reading Party???

You may or may not know, but back in February I wrote a blog post for a collaborative blog I contribute to called All Things Upper Elementary. It was my first blog post about Close Reads, and I am excited to make future posts about Close Reads! You can read that post by clicking HERE :) It will give you some good background knowledge before diving into my post below.

I have been using Close Reads for over a year now, and, honestly, when I learned about Close Reads, I realized what I had been doing for many, many years is pretty close to what Close Reads was all about. I know how as teachers we know "new" things seems to pop out of nowhere, but really Close Reads is probably pretty similar to what you have been doing.

Close Reads Linky Party! And You're Invited!!!
If you are like me, you were told to do Close Reads, but you weren't given too much direction on how to go about accomplishing this feat. I went home, did LOTS of research, bought a few books, and dove in. But I didn't mind because I LOVE learning so I thought it was fun. I learned a lot. And now I want to help you implement Close Reads in your classroom. I am planning to host a monthly linky party dedicated to Close Reads. I hope you will join me! I am going to invite a lot of other awesome bloggers to link up their posts on Close Reads because the more involved, the more you'll learn! Our Close Read linky party will be held on the 18th of every month. Kind of in the middle :) If it becomes popular, then I  will host a linky party every 2 weeks and it will just be on a specific day of the week. The first Close Read linky party I will offer a post on how I initially got started using Close Reads in my classroom. I will go over the basics that will help you figure out where to start because sometimes, even when an idea is awesome and you can't wait to try it, it is hard to know where to start.

I have one product in my TpT store that is perfect for those of you just starting out on your Close Reading adventure :) It is my Question Stems for Close Reading of Literature and Informational Texts. I felt so fortunate that it was chosen to be in the TpT newsletter 2 weeks ago! I am currently working on another product that I will have posted tomorrow night. It is my Interactive Notebook for Close Reads. While I have seen many interactive notebooks for reading, I haven't seen any that really focus on using close reads, so I am VERY excited about this product! I will be explaining how I use these products in my first post for my Close Reads linky party, so be sure to come check it out!

Now, a little snapshot about future posts on Close Reads.....

Now, this is just my own personal opinion, but I do NOT think you have to abandon your leveled reading groups (or you may call it guided reading..for the sake of this post, I will refer to it as guided reading) to implement Close Reads. I repeat, you do NOT have to abandon guided reading groups!!!!!!!!! Again, just my own personal opinion, but having 13 years experience, gifted endorsement, and worked many years with struggling readers, EVERY child needs to read on his/her level EVERY single day. I could go on and on about that, but that isn't the point of this post. Just wanted to throw that out there :)

I know some teachers who thought if they used Close Reads, then they couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't need to continue with their guided reading groups. They thought that Close Reads would take the place of guided reading. Please don't stop meeting with your reading groups. I know it is hard to fit it all in, but if you integrate reading with your science and social studies, you will "find" more time in your day than you think you have. I know some of you HAVE to use certain programs and that will make it extremely difficult to fit it all in, but children do need to read on their level every single day with an adult...with an adult who will ask targeted comprehension questions and focus on specific reading skills.

Is Close Reads the Same as Guided Reading?
I had many teachers ask me last year if Close Reading was the same as guided is, but it isn't.....not the answer you probably wanted to hear :) Close Reading really isn't HOW you structure your reading time. It is more of WHAT you DO during your reading time. So, yes, you can definitely do Close Reading during your guided reading group. I certainly did. And you can also do Close Reading during your science or social studies time, and also during your regular reading block. To me, simply put, Close Reading is how you select a text for a specific purpose, the type of questions you ask your students, and the type of responses your students give. It is teaching your students how to read a text closely, how to find the details needed to fully comprehend the text, how to just "get lost" in a good book.....and understand what they author is saying :)

I hope I have "teased" you just enough to want to come to my party next Wednesday. See you then!

Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)
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