Olathe Summer Conference: Close Reading w/ Doug Fisher

Close reading is designed for texts that are above the students comfort level for independent reading. It is the process of reading a text multiple times from multiple different angles to get a better understanding of the text. There should be a balance in school between stamina reading (quantity) and complex/close reading (quality).
One of the things that surprised me about the session was the discussion of multiple ways to scaffold reading. I’ve always been under the impression that it is best to frontload a text before reading the text to give the kids background knowledge. Instead the presenter encouraged backend or distributed scaffolding with more emphasis on backend scaffolds. This encourages students to develop/figure out what a texts means and draw their own meanings about the text. Then give them context, and they develop a deeper understanding of the text.
I also liked his method of annotation. They use 3 main annotations: underline main ideas, circle words/phrases that are confusing, and make margin notes tot restate the author’s ideas.
There were several other quick tips I plan to implement this coming school year. One is to have the students make text to self connections after they read a text. This allows them to interpret what the author intended instead of what they think it means. Another great tip was to print a larger copy of the article and carry it around on a clipboard. While the students are working the teacher can make notes over where the kids struggle and what questions the kids are writing down. Another tip was to start with a question all of the kids will know the answer to. This positive boost can help their confidence in tackling a difficult text. The final great tip involved looking at the 3 levels of questions: 1. What does the text say? (literal) 2. How does the text work? (structural) 3. What does the text mean?
Ultimately, the session can be summed up in one question the presenter asks his kids: What are you inspired to do in response to this text?

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