Close Reading: Teaching students to read closely at home

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You’ve been teaching your students to “Close Read” in class for the past month, and they’re really getting the hang of it. Then you get their Reading homework back and you see that only about 10 students are actually using the strategies at home. This was a problem I had in my own classroom that I knew I HAD to fix fast.

I sent my students home with the supplies they needed.
I know that all of my students could track down the supplies if they were really motivated, but some of them just aren’t. Some of them were even using lack of supplies as an excuse. I sent students home with a little goody back of supplies that I “checked out” to them for the week.


I made the Close Reading the main part of the homework.
I teach 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. My 4th graders need very explicit directions. Telling them to “Close Read” using the strategies we learned in class just wasn’t cutting it. It was the same for many of my 5th graders, and even a few of my 6th graders. I knew that they needed more specific directions in order to “Close Read” at home.

I started off by having them color code informational passages for main idea and details, as well at text-based evidence when they answered specific questions about the text. In addition, they had to annotate the text.

  • 4th Grade: One annotation per paragraph
  • 5th Grade: Two annotations per paragraph
  • 6th Grade: Two annotations and a summary sentence per paragraph
These activities are from my paper-saving Reading homework resource.

I had the students who did it well share with the class.
We spent the first few minutes of class every day looking at examples of students who did a great job of reading closely. These examples helped the other students a lot, and many of my students tried harder so that their work would be featured.



How do you use the “Close Reading” strategy in your classroom? What are your homework expectations? Share in the comments below!

And a free close reading resource…

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Written by
April Smith