Adventures in Literacy Land: Black History Month

Showing posts with label Black History Month. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black History Month. Show all posts

Close Reading ~ What is it?

Hello everyone!

This  is Laura from Where the Magic Happens  and this is my first time blogging with this great crew! I have  been crazy busy at school and have had a million things going on!
Anyhow, I have been reading and reflecting A LOT about how to transform my literacy teaching  in this era of higher standards.  For about a year I have been a close reading groupie enthusiast.  There is so much literature out there and so many materials that, I did not know what to read or where to begin. I am so lucky to have my BFF Marie from The Literacy Spot… she always recommends the best reads.   My Amazon wish-list is about to pop!


So really what in the world is close reading?

According to Fisher and Frey, close reading is:

“an instructional routine in which students are guided in their understanding of complex texts.”  Basically, close reading is a component of dynamic reading instruction where students:
  • Read strategically
  • Interact with the text
  • Reread to uncover layers of meaning that lead to deeper understanding
  • Analyze multiple component of the text and illustrations
  • Focus on the author’s message
These are some of the most important things that I have learned about close reading:
  • Not all texts deserve a close reading
  • Close reading is also not necessary when the text is fairly accessible. In other words,  when choosing texts for close reading… you want to pick a text that do not give up their meaning easily or quickly.
  • Close reading is MORE than a worksheet!!! Our students need to interact with their peers and their teachers using academic language and  argumentation skills as they discuss the text.
  • Close reading is not one-and-done reading! Rather, it is purposeful, careful, and thoughtful.
And honestly, I could go on and on…


I really could give you a million reasons.

Close reading is not to be confused with guided reading. They are two extremely important instructional approaches that must be part of your balanced literacy.  Close reading  is not exclusively about eyes on print or reading accurately. In close reading we seek to explore the comprehension of ideas and structures more deeply. In other words, there will be times (especially during the first read) that my students will read, but some texts demand to be heard  and read aloud – poems are a good example.
These are some of the benefits of close reading:
  • It leads students on a cognitive path that begins with discovering the literal meaning of a text and ends with the exploration of deeper meaning and  a plan of what should occur as a result of the reading.
  • Close reading will help our students understand the mechanics of a text, especially vocabulary, text structure, and the author’s craft.
  • Close reading will require that all students cite textual evidence in their products. 
These are some of the differences between close reading in the primary and upper elementary grades:




If you are thinking that a close read is an easy task for the teacher… then you might be like Santa Claus in the month of August.
Close reads are divided into four different phases:
  • What does the text say? (general understanding and key details)
  • How does the text work? (vocabulary, structure, author’s craft)
  • What does the text mean? (author’s purpose)
  • What does the text inspire you to do? (extended thinking)
These four phases provide our students to explore, practice, review, and navigate through literary and informational text-dependent questions. {Hello again mCLASS!} Text-dependent questions drive close reading!

You go right ahead and download this evidence based terminology poster to use during your close reading time! {click on picture!!}

And just in case you are wondering, this is what Fisher & Frey recommend as the best think marks for close reading based on their research.


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Until next time!


Black History Month Book Recommendations

This is Deniece from This Little Piggy Reads.
In February, my school celebrates Black History Month with a huge program that every grade level participates in.  Over the past decade we have celebrated many ways, including "faux wax museums", poetry readings, choir performances and plays.  It is standing room only!  

During the month I make it a point to read a variety books to my students.  I try to read both fiction and non-fiction texts that introduce them to new people/characters they can relate to.  I normally do not read the entire book.  Instead, I read a chapter to hook them!  I consider this to be more like a book trailer and/or a book review.
I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
This book is Dr. King's speech beautifully illustrated.

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
This book includes primary sources and is a pretty amazing read.

Let's Read About Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges and Grace Maccarone, 
Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
An easy reader that's a good introduction to non-fiction.

Little Rock Nine by Marshall Poe, Illustrated by Ellen Lindner
I've read a few books about The Little Rock Nine.  I haven't read this specific book; however, it is a graphic novel and my kiddos LOVE all graphic novels.  I have a feeling this book will end up in my classroom library this year!

This series of books is AHHH-MAZING!  I love these quick reads.  I have a small variety of the What Was books and a larger collection of the Who Was series.  These are perfect non-fiction texts for biography studies.

 The Tuskegee Airmen Story by Lynn M. Homan and Thomas Reilly
I have this book and another one about the Tuskegee Airmen.  My boys are obsessed with the Tuskegee Airmen!  Last year for Black History Month, we made paper mache' airmen helmets.  If you'd like to read about my adventure into paper mache', click here

This book is a great option to incorporate STEM.  
My students love aviation and this book was a hit last year!

I am a teacher on a mission.
My mission is to ensure that my students see themselves in the literature that they read.  It is incredibly important for children to see themselves in the stories that they read.  I highly recommend adding any of these books to your classroom or school library.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
This quick read is definitely for 5th grade and up.  If memory serves me right, there are pieces that are written like a diary.  The 3 sisters in this book have to deal with their unconventional mother.  The good news is Rita Williams-Garcia continues the girls' story with two other books.  


Thunder Rose by Jerdine Nolen, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
I love this book and highly recommend adding it to your Tall Tale Unit.

Ellray Jakes (series) by Sally Warner, Illustrated by Brian Biggs
If your boys don't know Lil' Ellray Jakes...they are missing out.
This is a good introduction to reading a series of books.  It is an easy read and the characters are very relatable.

Liberty Porter, First Daughter by Julia DeVillers, Illustrated by Paige Pooler
This is a new series about the First Daughter.  It is on my "to buy list".  There are a few books in the series and I have a feeling my students will definitely like Liberty!

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Have you heard of Henry "Box" Brown who mailed himself to freedom?
I found out about him a few years ago during Black History Month when our Kindergarteners studied him.  It is a pretty amazing story.  I added this book to my library last year and it both shocked and intrigued my GT students.  We ended up getting a box and many of them would sit inside it when they read the book.  Interesting.

Sugar Plum Ballerinas by Whoopi Goldberg.
I will admit, I heard about this book while watching The View.
It is a newer series, but has been successful.  I have one of them and some of my younger girls will read them.  Again, I think it's a good beginner series.

I know we have many primary grade teachers and although I do not own these books, I did read them when they were at our book fair.  I thought both were beautifully illustrated.  Music is a great way to introduce books in a PK/K classroom.

Do you have a favorite book to celebrate Black History Month?