Thursday, November 13, 2014

Close Reading Professional Development, Bookmarks & More!

Hello Friends~

It's Dianna from Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching here today. I'm so happy to be back working with my collaborative blog friends here at The Primary Pack. I hope you have been enjoying our daily posts here! I know I have! Make sure you are following us here on our blog & on our Facebook page to never miss a thing!
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So today I'm here to talk about Close Reading, Bookmarks & more. But before I get to that, let me back up. I dove into learning & teaching myself about Close Reading last Spring when I was still a part-time Title I 2nd Grade Teacher & Literacy Coach. I started reading books, online articles, blog posts, looking on Pinterest & just about anywhere I could find more information about Close Reading on. I'm no expert by any means, but I have gained a true passion for this "buzz" about Close Reading.

I ended the previous school year with a variety of new knowledge & experiences with this topic. I was then moved to full-time Literacy Coach. I knew that this would be my focus for the upcoming school year. To spread this knowledge & instructional practice through my building. Well this with academic language/vocabulary & a few other things.

In August at our first early release day I delivered a brief professional development in 3 sessions focusing on "Small Group Reading Instruction with the Common Core in Mind". I had originally presented this a few months earlier at a county professional development. I created this presentation with another Literacy Coach I work with after attending 2 Jen Jones, Hello Literacy Sessions at our state reading conference last Spring. It is always very important for anyone in your building who attends professional development to redeliver it to your staff who could not attend. I delivered a variety of information that I am assuming hit home with several of the staff at my school.

Here's a few snapshots of my presentation:
After the end of each session, I just asked the groups if anyone would be interested in doing a Close Reading book study for beginners to learn some more. I was SHOCKED at the amount of people who hopped on board. I was also happy, because as a person it is not my style to force people to do things they don't want to do. So therefore, this was exactly what I wanted to do. From there, my school ordered the books below, we emailed back & forth about a schedule, & I set up a study guide for our "in-between" sessions reading. The fabulous part about this all, is not only that the participants volunteered [which means they are interested & want to be there] but that we did this vertically with general & special education teachers. We meet on Thursday afternoons for an hour each week. It's a special time together where the different educators across the campus come together.

The book I chose is a fabulous guide for new Close Reading learners in K-5:
[click on the photo above for a direct link]
Since this is a book study professional development our sessions usually look something like this:
Here are a few snapshots of the staff during a few Thursday sessions in September & October. You will see the staff reflecting on chart paper to share new learning of the topic being discussed to share with the group, applying new learning through scaffolding lesson plans with complex text, using the book as a reference, creating text-dependent questions, collaborating & much more. I always try to give the staff something for them to create & implement in their own classroom. We have also viewed video clips & I kept a small group after school to model once as well. [I apologize for the camera photos!]. 
The next 3 photos are from our October 6th session when the staff had a complex text for Veteran's Day to prepare a plan for using a framework from our text. I simply found a few Veteran's Day sample passages on TpT, lexiled them using if they weren't already & we matched the passages to grade levels using the stretch lexile band. We only used pre-written passages with the framework from our book. This way each participant had a Close Reading plan for Veteran's Day the following week. 
They really do all the work I swear! They are on it! I just plan, facilitate & reinforce the purpose & high points that are the most meaningful & applicable. They work at every session & in-between sessions they are reading & practicing these instructional strategies. If not daily, every other day, I walk into some classroom in the middle of a Close Reading lesson or have a conversation with a teacher about doing a Close Reading lesson. They are really applying & practicing this instructional strategy & it makes my heart so happy!

Here are some snapshots of Veterans Day Close Reading Lessons going on this past Monday, planned last Thursday at training, as I walked through the campus. [Keep in mind I only stayed for a short time & I had my phone to take photos...]
1st Grade
First Reading Cycle: Whole Group/Shared Reading
First Question: What character traits describe a Veteran?
First Task: Highlight character trait words.
2nd Grade
First Reading Cycle: Whole Group/Shared Reading
First Question: What new vocabulary words or vocabulary words with unknown meaning did you notice while reading?
First Task: Annotation/Mark Ups ~ Vocabulary words that were new to the reader or had an unknown meaning.
So next, last year we created these E.L.A. bookmarks as part of our journey of using the academic language/vocabulary. 
You can download these HERE. I simply printed them on white card-stock paper, made a cute color coded by grade cover, cut down the middle, hole punched & used a zip tie to hold them together. Every teacher has one in our building & our Special Education teachers have one for every grade level they teach. I can honestly say, most of my staff uses them daily/weekly when planning & instructing. They just are so handy in the book mark set up.

As we come to the end of our Close Reading book study I wanted the participants to have easy access to the Close Reading Frameworks covered in our book study. So I decided to create it in the same format as our ELA bookmarks. This way it could be easy to use when planning & instructing Close Reading lessons rather than digging into the book. These frameworks are very helpful & direct according to: standards, genres & more! We referred to them weekly in our training's. My participants will actually get these next week as we finish our 10th hour of training.
Well I hope you enjoyed reading this post & that it was informative to you!!! I started a yearly Close Reading series in my store. I am creating a Close Reading resource pack for each month of this school year. I have started with Non-Fiction/Informational pieces. My plan is to move into different genres throughout the year as well. I release a new pack the week prior to the start of a new month. They are also 50% off for the first 24 hrs. So make sure you are following me!!!

In honor of my post here today, my monthly Close Reading packs that are in my store will be 50% off for 3 days. The sale will run from today, Thursday, November 13th ~ Saturday, November 15th. You can grab each of the packs below for $4.00!

[click on the photo above for a direct link]
[click on the photo above for a direct link]
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You can also try a FREE SAMPLE to see if this product is something that would be beneficial to you & your students!
[click on the photo above for a direct link]
So, what is your school focusing on for "in-house" professional development? How does your school & county do professional development?

Thanks for stopping by today & taking the time to read my post! Have a great day & keep in touch!


  1. I really enjoyed this post! Close Reading is so important and it makes so much sense! It's also an area that I need to improve on. Thank you for sharing!

    Monica, NC Teacher Chick

  2. Thanks Monica for your feedback! I completely love this book, it's an informative read that is easy to comprehend & apply to your instruction! It is going really well in most classrooms at my school, we are in the implementation process but we are on board with adding it to part of our balanced literacy instruction!!! xoxo

  3. Hey Dianna,

    I LOVED the site you lead me to in your post. what an awesome resource! Is there a way to download the slides from your presentation? Or are they just for us to read in this post? Thanks,
    Sydney :)
    Lessons Learned