Close Reading Strategy: Three Rounds


I get a lot of emails from teachers who want strategies for close reading in the content areas. 

These teachers are NOT trained to teach reading. And now they are being told that we are ALL teachers of reading, and they need practical close reading strategies that do NOT detract from the content they have to teach.

So over the next few weeks, I'm going to share some close reading strategies that can be used by teachers of any subject. I'll also answer some questions I get about the strategies.
Close Reading Strategy: Three Rounds gives students a purpose for re-reading a text. They will learn a strategy for finding the central idea of ANY piece.

What is Close Reading?

Let's start here: 
Close reading of a text involves careful, purposeful reading and rereading of a text. 

Sounds simple enough, right?  

In an ideal world, we hand out a complex text with complex questions, and we say, "Read this complex text. Then reread this complex text. Then, before you answer the complex questions about the complex text...rereread it.

If only it were that easy.  In fact, if it is easy for you to get your students to reread several times without involving bribery,  please come and teach mine. (And then make your way over to my house and convince my personal children to make their beds.) Because no matter how many times we tell our students to reread, most of them don’t do it.

How Can We Get Students to Reread?

We  have to convince our students that rereading will result in deeper comprehension by giving them a purpose for rereading.
Close Reading Strategy: Three Rounds gives students a purpose for re-reading a text. They will learn a strategy for finding the central idea of ANY piece.
This time we are going to try one of my favorite strategies: the three-round technique. It is a combination of a couple of other techniques, and it encourages rereading because it requires rereading.

What is the Three-Round Method and Why Does it Work?

The three-round method forces readers to slow down and approach a text in a deep and thoughtful manner. There is built-in scaffolding, so all students will benefit. In fact, if you are using this in professional development, I recommend that you have teachers try it themselves, with one of the provided texts or with another short text.


Here we go!

Close Reading Strategy: Three Rounds gives students a purpose for re-reading a text. They will learn a strategy for finding the central idea of ANY piece.

Three Rounds for Close Reading

Begin by assigning kids to work with a partner.

Round 1
  • Have students read a short passage. Then ask them to independently  find one significant word from the passage, and write down why the word is significant.
  • Give partners about a minute to discuss the word they chose and whey they chose it.
Round 2
  • Now ask students to find a significant phrase and explain why it’s significant.
  • Give partners 2 minutes to discuss the phrases they’ve chosen.
Round 3
  • Direct students to find a significant sentence from the passage and explain.
  • Give partners 3 minutes to discuss the sentences they’ve chosen.
Wrap Up
  • Have students independently determine the central idea of the passage.
  • Give students several minutes to discuss the central idea and share evidence.
  • Come together as a class to share ideas.
What Now?
Students have now read the text at least three times. They’ve shared evidence, discussed it, and they’ve carefully examined the text. 

Use the same procedure with other texts. Just be sure to start with short passages or text excerpts. Short passages are less daunting to students, so they are much more likely to focus. Also, in real-life reading or in a test situation, students will rarely have to reread an entire text. Instead, they will reread sections or chunks of texts, so it’s best to practice with short passages.

Eventually, you can ask students to find something other than central idea. You can ask specific, content-based questions.

You can also use the strategy with a longer passage and jigsaw. Break the kids up into small groups and assign each group a different part of the text. The entire class can come together to share their findings.

If you doubt the effectiveness of this strategy, (or if you are like me- mischievous) assign a complex text, go straight to the central idea question, and then discuss it as a class. If the text is truly challenging, the chances are good that your kids will be way off the mark. Then you can try doing the three-round method with the same text. When the kids see how much easier it is to comprehend the text after rereading, you have a complete buy-in to rereading. 

It's a double win. They think you are brilliant for teaching this, and you have them convinced that rereading is worthwhile. 

Wait. It's a triple win. Your supervisor will see that you are a content area teacher...AND a teacher of reading. ;)
Close Reading Strategy: Three Rounds gives students a purpose for re-reading a text. They will learn a strategy for finding the central idea of ANY piece.


If you know about any other great close reading strategies, please comment here or on my Darlene Anne's ELA Buffet on FaceBook page.

Let's help each other, so we can all help our students. 

Everything we teach our students will make the world a better place.

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