Close Reading and Collective Responsibility
Someone once told me that bloggers should write about things that matter to them. “Passion is contagious!” A lot of things matter to me, and I tend to be a pretty passionate person. In my world of teaching TIME and COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY are two things that matter to me.
I currently present workshops on Close Reading, and I love it. Done correctly, Close Reading can:
- increase reading confidence
- contribute to a positive, supportive classroom environment
- strengthen comprehension strategy development
- create lovers of reading (OK, I am an optimist)
But Close Reading takes TIME – real chunks of time. To dig deeply and intensively into a short piece of text, complete with well thought out text dependent questions is a real time sucker. And I don’t know ONE teacher who claims to have enough TIME in his/her day to meet the demands of this profession.
Enter COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY. The Common Core has charged content teachers with the responsibility for teaching Close Reading. No one subject area can do this to the extent that students will internalize the process. It’s just too much TIME! Content area teachers in my workshops visibly pale when they realize what Close Reading lessons entail. “Are you nuts? Have you met my curriculum?” I gently ask them if they could commit to this kind of process once a term. They pause. Pulses calm. Pallor improves. Breathing regulates. They want to do it; they really do. They see benefits by this point in the workshop. “I………….could do that,” they whisper.
If a student engages in real Close Reading once a term in social studies, science, ELA – that could be 12 experiences with Close Reading in a year. Add AP psychology, film studies, art history, Spanish 4……..you get it. That matters! That strengthens strategies, develops the confidence that comes with success, changes cultures. We have a COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY for literacy. We know there is a lot on the plate of every teacher – but literacy IS the plate. If we collectively take that responsibility, the benefits of Close Reading will be realized and not fall on the shoulders of one content teacher. Students will internalize the process.