Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 9, 2014

Student demonstrating a close reading
Close Reading of "Masks"
Shel Sliverstein
          First period was rough today, but by fourth period my lesson was pretty close to what I had hoped for. Today I introduced close reading to my seventh graders. As many of you know, getting thirty seventh graders to move a muscle (other than the superior oblique muscle for the occasional rolling of the eyes) can be close to impossible at 8:32 on a Tuesday morning.
      My first plan was to introduce close reading by canvassing the class about the ways they had responded to text in sixth grade. This turned out to be a great idea. Students had used many reading performances similar to what we were about to do. They had used T-S, T-T, T-W (text-self, text-text, and text-world) connections as well as emotional response and questions on Post-Its.
   After a brief introduction, I distributed the seventh grade list entailing how to demonstrate a close reading. We discussed similarities and differences of the approaches. I explained that in seventh grade, students were required to do more than ask questions--they must follow up with two possible outcomes. A few students look a little irked at this new requirement (which tells me they may not have been asking thoughtful questions, but questions that made marks on the page).
   We watched a great Youtube video created by high school students called "How to do a close reading." They demonstrated a close reading of Dr. Seuss's poem "Oh, The Places You Will Go."
Using this video as an example, students  annotated and then demonstrated their own close reading
of Shel Silverstein's "Masks," a great poem for middle school. This worked well.  
    I learned that students definitely need practice demonstrating close reading at their own tables before being called up to the class. Once given the chance to practice this new skill, students were able to present with more confidence.  While I had a few students in my first period class stand up and present to the class, I would not do this again. 
    In the future, I'd like to have students screencast their own close reading of a text. It is so important for students see the thinking that is taking place during this process. Tomorrow, students will demonstrate a close reading of a nonfiction article all about the brain. It is quite a jump from the short Silverstein poem, but I think they will be successful with it. I'll let you know what happens.

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