Close Reading For So Many Purposes!

Have you ever thought "How can we spend all week on this same two page article?"  "Won't my students be bored to death reading it over and over again?"  I know I thought these things in the past when I first started to experiment with close reading in my classroom.  But I now know that this is NOT the case if you keep the student's purposes for reading - interesting, engaging and applicable to their lives!  Last week my fifth graders read the same article FOUR times, yes I said 4.  And never once did I hear a complaint.  They couldn't wait to delve back in each time to seek out the purpose we had established.

How in the world did this happen?  Let alone in May.......   Here's a rundown of the different purposes we read "Should the Show Go On?" from our weekly Scholastic News.

Purpose #1

We took an initial class vote on the issue.  Students who felt that Yes, marine parks should still put on shows with orcas - stood on one side of the classroom. Unsure students stood in the middle, and those who felt that No, marine parks should stop using orcas in their shows - went to the other side of the room.  I put the initial vote tallies on the board and they stayed up all week, as our votes changed each day, I made the necessary alterations.  Next, we watched the short video clip that Scholastic News provides with each issue to spark student interest. After a short discussion, we were ready to read the article for the first time.  Our initial purpose was to learn the facts about marine park orca shows.  We got our highlighters ready and read it paragraph by paragraph highlighting the main idea of each section.

Purpose #2

We took a new classroom vote and I altered the tallies as needed.  We then had a discussion about how the author organized the facts in "Should the Show Go On?" to teach us about marine park orca shows.  This time students reread the article with a partner, keeping the purpose - to notice the text's structure - in mind.  Students were able to determine two structures - cause and effect - part of the article discussed how keeping orcas in captivity leads to aggressive behavior, and problem and solution - part of the article focused on how a 5th grade class did not want to support their local marine park's orca shows so they canceled their annual field trip.  Instead they chose to visit orcas in their natural habitat - the ocean - through a whale watching trip.  We ended with students writing about the text structure they noticed.
 You can find these text structure graphic organizers in my Informational Summarizing product on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Purpose #3

This time when we pulled out our article, I explained that we would think about the author's purpose for writing this text.  We reviewed the purposes authors write for (to entertain, persuade or inform) We agreed this article was written to inform. Students then reread the article with a different partner, strictly focusing on what the author wanted to inform us about.  After a discussion about the author's purpose, students independently craftd a response regarding the author's purpose. We closed this day by summarizing the article. Students took the main ideas they'd highlighted, their understanding of the text structure and author's purpose and wrote an informational summary of the text.
You can also find this Author's Purpose Reference Sheet in my Informational Summarizing product on Teachers Pay Teachers.

You can find these Informational Text Journal Response Prompt Reading Exit Slips in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
You can find this Informational Summary Rubric in my Informational Summarizing product on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Purpose #4

This one is my favorite.  Students read the article independently for the final time with the purpose to find evidence to support their opinion on the issue.  We started by taking another vote and I changed the tallies on the board as opinions shifted.  Students again pulled out their highlighter (different color this time) and looked for the main ideas and key details that would support their opinion.  I challenged them to find at least 3 strong pieces of evidence in the text to support their opinion.  We shared as a class some of the evidence found through a classroom debate.  We marked the evidence that supported the Yes, the Show Should Go On side with a Y and an N for the other side.  Finally, we took a final vote and then students used the evidence to write an essay stating their opinion on the topic. I always have them address the letter to someone important, for example: we looked online for the owner of a popular marine park and addressed the letters to him.  The students worked so hard on these essays because they felt like experts on the issue.  It was genuinely fun to read their completed work.
You can find this Opinion Essay Rubric in the Close Reading product in my
Teachers Pay Teachers store.

So that's it.  One article, four different purposes to read it closely - authentic reading and writing experiences and truly engaged students.  You can't ask for much more!


  1. I would love to read this Scholastic News article. I just got back from an overnight field trip with my students to Sea World where we spent the night in the park.
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. That sounds like so much fun!! I have to admit, I'm torn over the issue. It's a tough one to debate!

  2. This is great! We have a subscription to Time for Kids (hopefully renewed for next year). I
    like the voting aspect you added to reading closely and getting evidence! I will have to try some of these ideas next year. Thanks for sharing.

    Fifth Grade Wit and

  3. Wow! You really gave some great details about a powerful lesson. I look forward to giving this a try in the fall. Hmmm....I wonder how I can talk my principal into ordering these magazines? Thank so much for sharing your lesson.


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