Monday, September 2, 2013

#CloseReading Blog-a-thon: What I'm Thinking About This!

close reading button

I've been thinking a lot about "close reading" lately, even before Chris and Kate started this Blog-a-thon and even before I ordered their new book! 
I've been thinking a lot about where and when we read widely, across genre, topics, and authors. 
I've been thinking about where and when we read wildly, with rapt attention and focus on ingesting the topic or becoming one with the author and setting. 
I've also been thinking a lot about where and when we read deeply, with close focus and attention to the text, sometimes for a specific purpose but other times because the genre, topic, or our own passion for the subject takes over and demands we look more deeply. 

My own hypothesis (impression, thought) is that there are (and should be) times when we focus on stretching our reading to areas where we have not spent a lot of reading.  For me, that might be spending some time on the sports page in order to converse with others or it might be reading a popular mystery text, such as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid!  That type of reading is not really all that close or deep and my purposes are not to know everything about A-rod or which HS football team is going to have the best defensive line!  I only want to know enough to converse! 

I also propose there are times when we can (and should) read with wild abandon, such as when I get involved with a novel's characters or when a book calls me to become one with it!   I've been known to spend the night with Nicholas Sparks and that is OK even if I am not reading closely!  I escape into the book and while tired the next day, I have had a chance to leave my own world for another, for at least a moment in time.

Much, but certainly not all, of what we do in schools is closer, deeper reading for the purposes of discussion, response, or learning new things.  It's an area where we have expected kids to go without always modeling or focusing on how we get there!

I agree with Chris Lehman who says that we need to "help students observe, interact, and find their own questions and interpretations" as they read closely for many different school purposes.

I also agree with Kylene Beers and Bob Probst’s statement that  close reading involves rereading of short portions of a text with intensity.  You cannot read everything intensely and thus readers need to be able to quickly figure out what is most important and why!

I really like this definition: Close reading is when a reader independently stops at moments in a text (or media or life) to reread and observe the choices an author has made. He or she reflects on those observations to reach for new understandings that can color the way the rest of the book is read (or song heard or life lived) and thought about.

I'm also really grateful for this online PLN that I often read widely or wildly but sometimes, like today, I read closely!



Fran said...

Thanks for the reminders of the many reasons why we read as well as the many ways that we read! In order to keep the "joy" in reading, we need to be cautious when we think about "requiring close reading." Does a mandate equal the desire to know and learn? Or does the passion to know and learn create the need to "close read?"

Kevin Hodgson said...

I am all for reading with wild abandon, too.
But it also is evident that not all of my students are ready for that, or interested in that (which, to be frank, is always a bummer -- what if we had an entire classroom of eager readers? Party time.)
Thanks for the post.