Close Reading Can Be Powerful Within the Context of Guided Reading
Close reading and guided reading can exist in the same instructional environment. By reading closely in guided reading, a reader is encouraged to apply all their known understandings about how texts work to figure out meanings the text brings into existence. When close reading of a text is viewed as comprehending a text in an intentional manner, it can be powerful within the context of guided reading. Many posit close reading to be a series of reads and rereads for different purposes. When we view both close reading and guided reading as encouraging readers to make meaning by deconstructing a text, we’re open to seeing the similarities in these practices. In both practices, we ask readers to consider what an author is saying and/or might be saying. We consider how an author has made choices in constructing this text. And then finally, we consider what they, the readers, think about the ideas within and the construction of this text. In this fashion, close reading and guided reading have the same goals—creating the fullest comprehending experience possible. As readers work among the differing levels of comprehending, they use literal, interpretive, analytical, and critical understandings. Literal understandings are based on what the text says, providing the impetus for our thinking and giving us evidence to support our thinking. Interpretive understandings move us beyond what the author says into our original thinking and blend into the mix our experiences and life views. Analytical understandings require us to consider the deliberate choices an author makes, while critical understandings are what we think once we consider what the author and others in a conversation have to say. When we work in guided reading or use close reading techniques, our goal is to have readers experience a text with all these different levels of understanding. Close reading and guided reading have the same outcomes—to make possible the deepest meaning in reading a text.
Debra Crouch works nationally as an independent literacy consultant, collaborating with districts and schools in designing professional learning opportunities. Her work empowers teachers, principals, and coaches to envision instructional decisions that matter for children—decisions about processes for learning that unfold over time, across texts and among practices. She actively shares her thinking and practices through long-term professional learning opportunities with districts across the country serving children from diverse backgrounds, languages, and socioeconomic needs.