How to Close Read in 5 (newly revised and improved) Steps!

So I had been following my previous procedure for Close Reading that I detailed in an earlier post.  But since then I have had an awakening and I have recently revised my procedures.  Previously, after step 2 which required the students to summarize, I had them look immediately for the author’s message/purpose.  My awakening happened several weeks ago when I realized that it would be hard to understand the author’s message/purpose if the reader didn’t first understand text structure first.

I define text structure as the words and sentence structure an author uses to convey: 

  • chronological order (use of dates)
  • temporal order (use of transition words such as, first, then, next, finally)
  • cause and effect (signal words such as, because, so, then, consequently, if/then, etc.)
  • compare and contrast (signal words such as, same, different, however, but, both, etc)
  • explanation and examples (using definitions or statements with examples)

Through my experience with close reading and my students, I have discovered that identifying the text structure first gives them the advantage of knowing what the author was intending.  For example, in the text below we identified that the author was using cause and effect even though there really weren’t any signal words for such.  

But because they knew that the author had used cause and effect, they came to the idea that the author was trying to show how the flag had changed over time.  When I asked them to cite evidence they very confidently said it was because of a growing country and no specific rules governing the flag.  Because they knew it was a cause and effect structure, they knew exactly where to look to cite the evidence!  Of course, I’m sure I will continue to tweak and refine my close reading procedures as this journey continues.  

Share your ideas for close reading!  I would love to hear what has worked for you.


As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions!