Thursday, January 24, 2013

Close Reading and Literary Essay Unit

Currently, we are in our Close Reading unit in reading workshop and Literary Essay unit in writing workshop.  The two units are integrated and students are writing about the texts they are reading closely. This is one of my favorite units because it teaches students strategies for close reading which deepen their comprehension, lift the level of their interpretation of texts, and strengthen their conversations and writing about reading.  Each time we begin a new unit, we always discuss its purpose and how it is going to help us as readers and/or writers.  Below is a chart we created during our first mini-lesson when discussing the purpose of the unit.   
For each unit, we also keep track of all of our teaching points for each mini-lesson so we can continue to refer to them, use the chart as a resource during independent reading/writing, and build upon our learning.  It is a great visual for students to see all the skills and strategies they have learned and are practicing as readers and writers.  Below is our first chart we have created with our teaching points - we are on our 2nd chart now of teaching points.  
As students are reading short texts closely, they have been leaving tracks of thinking in the margins and writing patches of thinking in their writer's notebooks. These tracks and patches focus on interpreting the text by analyzing the author's message, symbolism, important lines, character change, theme, theories, and so on.  A few students created this visual below for their classmates to use as a resource as they are working independently to remind them of the different ways they can interpret the text and lift the level of their thinking.  
I always love having students share and display their work so they can learn from one another.  Below are two bulletin boards our class created to showcase our patches of thinking for the short texts we have read aloud and discussed in class as well as their independent short texts they have read during independent reading.  

At the beginning of this week, students read through their patches of thinking and chose a short text to write a literary essay for that would extend their thinking and interpretation of the text.  I wrote my own literary essays to use as models during mini-lessons and mentors throughout the writing process.  We also have been writing a class literary essay together, which has been the basis of our demonstration and active engagement in our mini-lessons.  Students have been busy at work drafting their first literary essay using Google Drive (click here to read about how we are using Google Drive) and are just finishing them  - stay tuned to hear more about our literary essays this weekend! :)


  1. Thank you for your great posts. How do students know what to contribute to the "Purpose of the Unit" poster if you're just getting started?


    1. Prior to creating that chart, I discuss how the unit is going to go and what it is going to focus on. They create this chart by using what they know about readers/writers and why they think they are focusing on the skills in this particular unit and how they think they will help them grow as readers and writers. Hope that helps! :)

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