Close Reading

I'm SO excited about this post...I've had it written in my head the past few weeks so I hope that YOU will be just as excited as me!
I'm sure you've heard about close reading by now. It's all over blog-land and TpT and have you been to a professional development on it yet?! I went to a workshop last summer during our district's leadership conference and it was awful it left me thinking "mehhh." And...I wasn't quite sure how it was applicable to my kindergarten classroom.

I think of the hours upon hours that (as a student) my teachers taught me how to go back and annotate and highlight and FIND THAT ANSWER! {It  is testing season, friends!}

But that's not what close reading is all about. It's about digging deeper than the text and activating our student's schema and making new connections. We are using higher order thinking but basing our answers within the text. We find the evidence {OK?! you upper grade teachers! They are being taught SO young how to do this!} and ask "how did you know that?"

I am really a beginner at this...but seriously, it is amazing the vocabulary and language that our students are using! For most of my guidance I've used the internet and a lot of Tara's guidance! start off we only read 1 book a week {yes, we read many other books for other subjects- but for reading, we stick to 1 text} I like to have something to anchor my students to throughout the I created a focus board for our close reading. Anyone could walk into our classroom and see what we are learning for the week.
{I apologize for the glare...I just have this up on our whiteboard so I can use magnets to tack everything up} I hope to make it an entire bulletin board next year when I have time to rearrange things. If you'd like to snag the labels I used for this board, click HERE. I just backed them on teal construction paper, laminated, and cut to size!
 {don't mind that question mark...totally unrelated to close reading- just higher order questions I ask my kids throughout the week}
Essential questions set the focus for the lesson. I like having my question posted so that we can refer back to it as the lesson moves on. On the day that I took this picture, our focus was vocabulary. {always on Tuesday- day 2} We read through the book for a second time and highlight (on the Smart board) words that were unfamiliar. My kids are SO good at this! It really encourages a child's natural curiosity- so many times they come up with words that I never would have picked out myself. This way they are taking ownership of their learning. {of course...I might "guide" them a little bit to the words I really want to focus on} ;)
I put our words in a pocket chart- I would prefer to use chart paper...but I'm seriously out of room and the pocket chart fit perfectly in the space I have. My KIDS come up with the definitions (with a little guiding of course) Sometimes we do this as groups or partners and act it out - it all depends on what is appropriate for the day and book.
This week we have STAAR testing and my classroom shares a wall with a testing grade so we couldn't get rowdy doing vocabulary. Instead, my students illustrated the definitions in their own way. I love how this student showed "germination"!
I hope you're intrigued!! I will be back with more soon! If you're interested- Tara from Little Minds at Work has some GREAT posts on close reading. Hop over to her blog to check them out!!


  1. I wish that I had whiteboard space like that!! We have Enoboards (very similar to Smartboards) but on either side are chalkboards-I try to make it nice but it is hard to get so much stuff on my focus wall because the space is so small on either side! I love the idea for vocabulary with your close reading passage!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!! =)

  2. I love your focus wall! Thanks for sharing. I bought Tara's close reading units recently and hope to really get into them next year. Can't wait to read more!

    1. PS: Do you have the Genre posters or Essential Question posters available in your store?

  3. Love the focus board. Is your essential question a CCSS?

  4. We probably went to the same BORING inservice. Your bulletin board reminded me of the focus walls I did when I taught 2nd/3rd. I never thought of adapting it to Kindergarten. Thanks for the great idea.
    ✿Tiffani Time 4 Kindergarten

  5. AWESOME post!!!!
    I'm curious about how to put words on smartboard (for vocab study). is the book under elmo or are these books an online version?
    Would love to see more posts on this
    (BTW - love the board, I'm totally stealing these signs!)

  6. Nicole, this post is amazing! Thank you. I love your focus board! I'm so impressed!
    Sarah's First Grade Snippets

  7. Thanks for sharing these great ideas and your awesome focus wall- love 'em! I found the great Genre posters here:

  8. Thank you for the post. This is something that I am working on right now. Not to get off track, but where to you get the clipart of the glue stick? Can you let me know. I am trying to find nice school supply clipart. Thanks!

  9. I am finally making time to settle in and read this post, Nicole. Thank goodness for Spring Break and a little bit of free time. :)

    I actually don't know much about close reading, but I am very intrigued!! I am going to check out Tara's blog and might come back with some questions for you!! Maybe something to look into for next school year!?!

    Awesome post!

    ABCs and Polkadots


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