July 19, 2015

Start Your Year with Close Reading

As a busy teacher, and really, do you know a teacher who isn't?, I look forward to summer vacation starting in about March of each school year.  It's not that I don't love teaching, or my students, or English for that matter.  But, the appeal of relaxing in the sun, hanging out with my boys, and forgetting what day of the week it is are all powerful sirens calling to me.

So, why is it then, that once summer hits, I start shopping for my classroom, dreaming up new lessons, and planning for the school year to start.  It's a mystery, I tell you.

With that, I've now entered full on back-to-school mode.  I start up again in about three weeks, so my clock is ticking down.  Which is why I'm teaming up with Sara from Ms. Fs Teaching Adventures for a blog hop about the first lesson of the year.

One of the things I do most often in my English class is read complex texts with my students.  I expect them to close read  and annotate for important details that might be missed from a one time read.  But, I'm sure you know that students are often reluctant to read anything again, much less read it the first time.  That's why I teach Close Reading right away.
I begin with cartoons, as students consider this "easy" reading.  I model several cartoons, and then give them time to practice independently.  From there, we pair-share, and ultimately move to whole class discussion.  This process is very risk free, and students are able to share as they are comfortable.
Model that I use to teach the process of close reading to my high school English students.

After students feel comfortable with cartoons, we move to media ads, historical photographs, nonfiction, poetry, and eventually longer pieces of literature.  
Another model that students enjoy when practicing the close reading process.

By the end of the week (and of course, we continue the practice after the week is finished), students are confident and prepared for my rigorous expectations.

If you'd like to try this out, I have a FREEBIE! that provides my close reading strategy sheet. It is taken from my larger resource, Introduction to Close Reading.

However you start, I hope that you have a fantastic year!  Please join in the Rafflecopter for a chance to win some great resources, plus a $25 TPT gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

From Reflecting Mrs. Liana "Back to School Activities and Resources!"
From Brain Leaders and Learners' Ellen Weber "50 MI Task Cards- The Fault in Our Stars!"
From B's Book Love "Comparison of Lamb to Slaughter and Little Red Riding Hood by Roald Dahl!"
From the Creative English Classroom "Greek and Latin Roots Scrapbook with Examples & Definitions" AND ""Editable Bokeh Binder Covers and Spines!
From Brynn at The Literary Maven a $10 shopping spree to her store!
From Jackie at Real Learning in Room 213 her "ELA Poster Bundle!"
From Kim at OCBeachTeacher her "American Voices Through Art:  Reading & Creating Non-Print Text!"
From Kovescence of the Mind her "Parts of Speech- Grammar Units: Identify, Diagram, Review, and Test!"
From The Daring English Teacher a $10 shopping spree in her store!
From Melissa at Making Meaning with Melissa "Sassy Sentences: Sentence Variety Using Mentor Sentences!"
From Lauralee at The Language Arts Classroom "Bell Ringers and Grammar Errors for August"
From Sara at Ms. Fuller's Teaching Adventures my "Back to School Bundle!"


  1. Whoa never thought to start with cartoons. Ok I'm convinced, I might have to steal this.

    1. Try it, it works so well! Thanks for hosting this blog hop!

  2. What a brilliant idea! Students love cartoons, and starting with cartoons for close reading is a brilliant way to engage them in a skill that can sometimes be a little intimidating for them :)

    1. Thank you! They are far more willing to participate and put themselves out there when they don't think it's too hard for them.

  3. This is a great way to ease students into close reading! Awesome idea!

  4. Lol - Funny comic! I'm sure students love starting with cartoons and visual media because our society uses images to communicate for everything now. I think I will try something like this, too! Thanks for sharing!

  5. These are some great ideas! I never thought about cartoons!

  6. Great idea! I've done this with paintings and advertisements, but somehow it slipped my mind to use cartoons. Great idea!

    Simply Secondary

  7. Secondary students love cartoons and you capture what they already love here wonderfully as tools to help them understand and work with close reading. No wonder it works! Thanks for sharing! Ellen

  8. I can't wait to try this activity! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I love this resource and have purchased it from your TPT store! In this post, you showed examples of completed models you constructed for your students- do you have completed models for the rest of the resources in this packet?

    1. Hi Ms. Colbert,

      First of all, thanks for visiting and for purchasing this resource! I love it, too! In the zipped file, there are two separate folders - one is the packet to give the students, and the other folder has a completed model for each of the practice resources. There is a cartoon, an advertisement, a poem, a piece of lit, and a nonfiction piece. These are all pdfs, so you can show them on the screen, or use them as notes, and construct the models yourself using your board or document camera.

      Thanks for stopping by,


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