When I start teaching close reading strategies, I ask students to "talk to the text." Which means, I ask them to write their metacognitive thoughts all over the text. (Learn more about "talking to the text" HERE). I had students practice with poems and short stories, allowing them to put pencil to paper to share their thinking.
When we moved into our novel unit, I didn't want to lose these close reading strategies- and the great skills that were developing in my students. I spent time reflecting on the skills my students would really need in one, two, five, and ten years down the road. In doing so, I set three goals:
1. Students will be able to identify evidence within a text that is relevant/important to the character and/or plot development.
2. Students will be able to craft a commentary on these passages.
3. Students will continue using the close reading strategies developed in the first few weeks of school. They will be able to think about thier thinkiing and use this metacognition to grow as readers.
I knew I wanted students to practice close reading strategies while also preparing students to write a quality literary analysis paragraph. Because students cannot write directly in the class novels, I created a dialectal journal so students can work on selecting quality evidence while still reflecting on the text. In essence, they can continue to "talk to the text."
This helped students begin to work on my first two goals, but I still wanted my students to reflect on their own thinking and their growth as a reader.
To do this, I create a Reader's Workshop Notebook (packet) that would allow students to create goals and track those goals throughout the novel. Students can then reflect, each month, on their progress toward the goals set. They can reflect on their use of the strategies learned, their ability to stay focused on the text, understand the content, etc.
I ask students to write a letter to me to share these reflections. This forces them to think deeply about their reflections and write them out as an explanation to me. This helps them make sense of these reflections in an organized and supported manner. Within my Reading Strategies bundle, students will be provided guided questions to help them through this reflection process, and support in writing these out in letter format.
I assess students both on their dialectal journal and on their reflection letter. I try to provide as much feedback as possible on these dialectal journals to help students grow in their next month's journal entries. I have seen SO much growth in my students. They have become better readers, but they have also become reflective learners. I truly can't decide which of these I love more!
To learn more about the Close Reading Strategies Unit & my Reader's Workshop Unit documents click on the images below. Be sure to check out the Close Reading Strategies Freebie at the bottom of the page!