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7th grade Language Arts - Weekly Focus: Milestones Prep  View Blog

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  • Close Reading Strategies

    1. Number the paragraphs

    The Common Core asks students to be able to cite and refer to the text. One simple way to do this is by numbering each paragraph, section or stanza in the left hand margin. When students refer to the text, they should state which paragraph they are referring to. The rest of the class will be able to quickly find the line being referred to. 

    2. Chunk the text.

    When faced with a full page of text, reading it can quickly become overwhelming for students. Breaking up the text into smaller sections (or chunks) makes the page much more manageable for students. Students do this by drawing a horizontal line between paragraphs to divide the page into smaller sections.

    Look at the paragraphs to see where natural chunks occur. Paragraphs 1-3 may be the hook and thesis statement, while 6-8 may be the paragraphs where the author addresses the opposition. It is important to understand that there is no right or wrong way to chunk the text, as long as you can justify why you grouped certain paragraphs together.


    3. Underline and circle… with a purpose.

    Telling students to simply underline “the important stuff” is too vague. “Stuff” is not a concrete thing that students can identify. Students should underline and circle very specific things.

    For example, when studying an argument, ask students to underline “claims”. We identify claims as belief statements that the author is making. 

    When studying poetry, students could underline the imagery they find throughout the poem.

    Circling specific items is also an effective close reading strategy. Have students circle “Key terms” in the text. Key terms are words that: 1. Are defined. 2. Are repeated throughout the text. 3. If you only circled five key terms in the entire text, you would have a pretty good idea about what the entire text is about.


    4. Left margin: What is the author SAYING?

    It isn’t enough to ask students to “write in the margins”. We must be very specific and give students a game plan for what they will write. This is where the chunking comes into play.

    In the left margin, have students summarize each chunk. Demonstrate how to write summaries in 10-words or less. The chunking allows the students to look at the text in smaller segments, and summarize what the author is saying in just that small, specific chunk. 

    5. Right margin: Dig deeper into the text  

    In the right-hand margin, direct students to complete a specific task for each chunk. This may include:

    ·     Use a power verb to describe what the author is DOING. (For example: Describing, illustrating, arguing, etc..) Note: It isn’t enough for students to write “Comparing” and be done. What is the author comparing? A better answer might be: “Comparing the character of Montag to Captain Beatty”.

    ·     Represent the information with a picture. This is a good way for students to be creative to visually represent the chunk with a drawing.

    ·     Ask questions. This can be a struggle for many students, as they often say they don’t have any questions to ask. When modeled, students can begin to learn how to ask questions that dig deeper into the text.

Assignment- Monday August 17
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