Strategy Focus: Close Reading

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Feb. 10, 2016, 3:31 p.m.

While close reading we ask ourselves:

  • What is the text about?
  • How does the author organize and emphasize the text?
  • How is the text similar or different to other texts?

Here are some important staples that go along with close reading:


Tracking your thinking with annotations is important because this is how thinking is processed while reading. Annotation is an abstract reading skill that needs to be explicitly modeled for students before they are expected to produce annotations. Tracking your thinking is simply writing notes and observations as you read. Proficient readers annotate while they read. This makes learning "stick"!

Using post-its or a reading journal to take notes before, during, and after reading. Have students share their annotations with peers to compare thinking. It is also important for the educator to model, guide, and share their reading annotations with students throughout the school year.

Importance of Discussion

Discussions are the the catalyst to comprehension. Students need many opportunities to discuss what they are reading with peers, educators, and parents. Create opportunities for discussion each day. It is important to model what accountable talk looks and sounds like. Students will follow your lead and will gradual begin to hold deeper conversations about what they are reading.

Combining Close & Guided Reading

Close reading can be used during your guided reading block. This is a great time to practice this strategy because you can closely monitor your students' application of comprehension and critical reading strategies and prompt or cue when needed.

Close reading helps students go beyond surface-level reading and understand the author's message at many levels.

Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

About The Authors

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

Learn More »