Close Reading Exemplars

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Tools for Teachers:
Close Reading Exemplars
Implementing Key Shifts in the CCSS—Part Three
Session Objectives
As a result of this session, participants will…
Learn how to support rigorous CCSS-aligned reading
instruction with close reading exemplars that embody key shifts
in the CCSS.
Examine the characteristics of close reading exemplars.
Learn about the importance of a systematic focus on academic
vocabulary within CCSS-aligned instruction.
Understand best practices for creating close reading exemplars.
Explore methods for delivering effective close reading
instruction that cultivates students’ interest in the text,
responsibility for leading discussions and performing analysis,
and the confidence and stamina necessary for gradual release to
independence and proficiency.
Key Shifts in the Standards
Designing Instruction about Complex Texts
Mastery of complex text is
achieved through wellsequenced text-dependent
questions that rely on
evidence drawn from the
text, attention to academic
vocabulary & text
structures, and scaffolding
that retains the
experience of text
complexity.
What are Close Reading Exemplars?
Pulls together several of the key shifts within the CCSS into a
single methodological approach towards close reading:
Focus on complex text that is not over-scaffolded with background
information prior to the close read.
Use of text-dependent questions.
Relies on evidence extracted from the text.
Emphasizes the importance of understanding academic
vocabulary and focusing on text structures in context.
Links reading complex texts to culminating speaking, listening,
and writing activities that are text- and evidence-based.
Why Design through
Close Reading Exemplars Matters
Creates intentionally-focused
opportunities in the classroom
and across the curriculum to
slow down and read texts
closely.
Allows teachers and students
to systematically investigate
texts for their meaning and
purpose.
Reliance on an integrated set
of text-dependent questions
leads to deeper holistic
engagement with the material.
Time to Reflect
Close reading
exemplars pull together
several key shifts within
the CCSS into a single
methodological
approach towards
reading complex texts.
Why Design with a Focus on
Academic Vocabulary Matters
Teaching focused on
academic vocabulary is
linked to significant gains in
comprehension.
The lack of systematic
instruction has been shown
to be a leading cause of the
achievement gap.
Thus the CCSS stress the
importance of contextual
instruction around “Tier 2”
academic vocabulary.
Academic Vocabulary and the CCSS:
The Three Tiers
Tier 1: The basic and concrete words of everyday speech;
examples include walk, said, and car.
Tier 3: Highly specialized, domain-specific vocabulary used
to describe content knowledge; examples include oligarchy,
photosynthesis, and carburetor; their low occurrence in texts
typically leads to them being explicitly defined by the
teacher or in the text itself (e.g. “White supremacy was
enforced through segregation laws called ‘Jim Crow’”). Tier
3 words are best taught in the context of a coherent course
of study in which subject matters are integrated and
coordinated across the curriculum and domains become
familiar to the student over several days or weeks.
Academic Vocabulary and the CCSS:
The Three Tiers
Tier 2: Precise and more abstract words typically found in
written texts; examples include saunter, boasted, and
vehicle; referred to as high utility general academic
vocabulary because of their frequent appearance across
content areas, rich representational quality, multiple
meanings depending on context, and connection to other
words; seldom defined or scaffolded within texts.
The contextual analysis of Tier 2 words should be the
academic vocabulary focus within close reading
exemplars.
Tools for Selecting Academic Vocabulary
Because there is
a larger number
of Tier 2 words
than can be
taught directly
in a lesson,
teachers must be
strategic in
selecting
vocabulary to
focus on when
teaching a text.
Academic Vocabulary and Real Texts
“The earliest arrivals found places as
close as possible to the steps of the
great marble monument. As the
crowd grew, it spread back along the
Mall, stretching around both sides
of the long reflecting pool and
extending beyond to the base of the
Washington Monument, threequarters of a mile away. Baby
carriages were parked among the
trees. Folks cradled sleeping infants
in their arms and held youngsters by
the hand or propped up on their
shoulders. Uniformed Boy Scouts
moved through the festive holiday
throng handing out programs.”
Academic Vocabulary and Real Texts
“The earliest arrivals found places as
close as possible to the steps of the
great marble monument. As the
crowd grew, it spread back along the
Mall, stretching around both sides
of the long reflecting pool and
extending beyond to the base of the
Washington Monument, threequarters of a mile away. Baby
carriages were parked among the
trees. Folks cradled sleeping infants
in their arms and held youngsters by
the hand or propped up on their
shoulders. Uniformed Boy Scouts
moved through the festive holiday
throng handing out programs.”
Time to Reflect
Effective CCSS-aligned
instruction is designed
with a focus on
systematically
developing students’
“Tier 2” academic
vocabulary.
Close Reading Exemplars and Real Texts
The shifts to instruction surrounding Design when Teaching
Complex Texts manifest themselves most clearly when examining
Close Reading Exemplars.
Designing a Close Reading Exemplar
Close reading exemplar
templates for students
should:
Include the text selected for
close reading with only those
words glossed that could not
be deciphered from context.
Stress both independent
silent reading of the text as
well as reading the text out
loud to support fluency.
Designing a Close Reading Exemplar
Close reader exemplar templates for teachers should:
Present the text
alongside the
questions about it.
Retain the focus on
vocabulary (both
taught in context
and those words that
are glossed).
Include synoptic
answers for teachers
to the questions for
easy reference.
Tools for Designing Close Reading Exemplars
Key elements that
should appear in Close
Reading Exemplars to
create lessons that have
a text-dependent focus:
Goals and CCSS
Connection
Sequenced Text
Dependent
Questions
Extension Activities
Next Steps:
Practice Creating Close Reading Exemplars
Frederick Douglass’
“Men of Color, To Arms!”
Time to Reflect
Mastery of complex text is
achieved through wellsequenced text-dependent
questions that rely on
evidence drawn from the
text, attention to academic
vocabulary & text
structures, and scaffolding
that retains the
experience of text
complexity.
Delivering Instruction about Complex Texts
Teachers use close reading
to cultivate in students
interest in the text,
responsibility for leading
discussions and performing
analysis, and the confidence
and stamina necessary for
gradual release to
independence
and proficiency.
Why Delivery about Complex Text Matters
The CCSS convey specific
expectations regarding student
performance.
Teachers should cultivate key
student capacities integral to
achieving these goals.
Thus the CCSS stress not how
to teach but what to teach: close
reading, evidence-based analysis,
and cogent reasoning—all
culminating in a gradual release
to independence and
proficiency.
Language in Teaching Effectiveness Rubrics
What Kind Of Questions Should Teachers Ask?
“higher-level questions”
“higher order questions”
“effective questioning”
“questions push students beyond their initial thinking”
“variety of questions”
“questions challenge students to think”
“questions that result in critical thinking and problem solving”
How Shifts Would Impact
Teaching Effectiveness
What Kind Of Questions Should Teachers Ask?
“questions that are closely tied to the text itself”
“questions that require students to extract
evidence from the text”
“high-quality questions that require students to make
inferences from what is stated in the text”
“sequenced series of questions that build depth
of understanding”
“questions that pay attention to text structures”
“questions that focus on academic vocabulary”
Next Steps:
Self-Assessment for Teaching Complex Texts
1. Make selfassessment a regular
part of your own
teaching practice.
2. Own the evaluation
system rather than
it owning you.
3. Be intentional in
the depth of
questions asked,
design of lessons,
and delivery of
instruction.
Tools for Measuring Delivery:
Teaching Complex Texts Evaluation
Evaluation Criteria
keyed to critical areas
discussed in Depth,
Design, and Delivery.
Criteria focus on
“standards based
learning objectives”:
close reading, text
dependent questions,
Tier 2 vocabulary,
text complexity, and
gradual release to
independence and
proficiency.
Next Steps:
Teachers Coaching Each Other
California researchers* … conducted a five-year study of teacherskill development in eighty schools, and noticed something
interesting. Workshops led teachers to use new skills in the
classroom only ten per cent of the time. Even when a practice
session with demonstrations and personal feedback was added,
fewer than twenty per cent made the change. But when
coaching was introduced—when a colleague watched them try
the new skills in their own classroom and provided
suggestions—adoption rates passed ninety per cent. A spate of
small randomized trials confirmed the effect. Coached teachers
were more effective, and their students did better on tests.
- Atul Gawande, “Personal Best”
*For more information, see research conducted by Bruce Joyce and Beverly Showers.
Time to Reflect
Teachers use close reading
to cultivate in students
interest in the text,
responsibility for leading
discussions and performing
analysis, and the confidence
and stamina necessary for
gradual release to
independence
and proficiency.
Teaching Complex Texts:
Summing Up
Ask in-Depth Questions
Design Close Reading
Instruction
Deliver Instruction
Intentionally
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