Summer of Strategies: Close Reading for Word Meaning
Close reading is the careful reading of a text, often multiple times, to obtain a deeper understanding of its meaning, and should be part of a well-balanced curriculum in language arts and the content areas*.
Close reading is used to examine specific aspects of a short text, such as key details, author’s point of view, word meaning, or making inferences. This post shares a close reading strategy to help students determine word meaning from any text that they read.
Use this version when the text provides definition/context to determine word meaning.
- Display the text using a projector or document camera. Have students reread the text independently or in pairs.
- Select key words from the text that need to be defined and display those words for students.
- Ask students to highlight the sentences where those words are found and that give their definitions.
- Ask, “Why do you think the author put the words ______ and _______ in italics (or bold)?” Discuss how the text features help the reader determine the meanings of these words and phrases.
Use this version when outside resources need to be used to determine word meaning.
- Display the text using a projector or document camera. Have students review their initial impression notes in the margins. Ask if anyone noted any words that were either confusing or interesting in the text. Highlight these words on the projected text.
- Have students reread the text independently or in pairs.
- Allow students time to use dictionaries, context clues, and other resources to determine the meanings of unknown or confusing words and phrases.
- Have students share their definitions and then agree on a definition for each word as a class. Record the definition on the displayed text and have students do the same.
Download sample close reading lessons that use this strategy. Download Now
*Research Cited Brown, Sheila, and Lee Kappes. 2012. “Implementing the Common Core State Standards: A Primer on ‘Close Reading of Text.’” Washington, DC: Aspen Institute. http://www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/implementing-common-core-statestandards-primer-close-reading-text.