As I walked the room redirecting, and conversing with the students, I stumbled upon a student who had a wonderfully color-coded paper. I got excited and started asking questions. When he could not answer any of them the following conversation ensued:
- Just tell me, what did you read?
- What do you mean words?
- Yeah, you told us to read, and I read the words.
- What did they say?
- I don't know, they were just words.
- So why did you highlight this sentence?
- Because I was looking for the vocabulary words, and this sentence had several of them.
No matter how I tried to coax him, as he very simply had put it, he had "just read words". This started me thinking on how many of our students "just read words", and don't actually do the close reading that they need to achieve true literacy, even when we have worked hard at giving them a purpose, developed maps of knowledge, and read across disciplines. The strategies and skills needed need to help us develop that which Grant Wiggins defines as close reading:
"what “close reading” really means in practice is disciplined re-reading of inherently complex and worthy texts."So now what do I do? How do I encourage my students to do a reading task with actual disciplined re-reading?
I began by searching high and low for something other than the highlighters that just "pretty up the paper" and annotations that do not mean anything.
Have you run across any other tools?
Further reading on close reading: The Critical Thinking Community