Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Close Reading: In Defense of Dense Texts

Close reading is following me of late.  Perhaps it is because Chris Lehman is all over Twitter all of the time!  It might also be due to my book club reading (Close Reading).   Whatever the reason, I spent some time this afternoon talking about the President of the United States.  The text we were reading closely talked about one of his jobs as the person who is in charge of defense.  With a lot of encouragement, the kids did connect with the use of that word in sports!  We really did, however, have to go back and to look closely at the text.  
Then, later this afternoon, I read the Langston Hughes poem below through the lens of "close reading.".It made me stop and think .  I wondered about the crystal staircase and "tacks" metaphors.  I reread some of the powerful descriptions and wondered about what the author wanted me to know.  I looked over the thoughts of strong and struggling students. I was sure of only one thing:
                                While there are parts of the CCSS that make us cringe, 
                      we owe students opportunities to experience rigorous / dense texts
                                            (texts that make us want to reread).   
Mother to Son
Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.

Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

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