Close reading is when a reader analyzes the details of a text to make interpretations and develop a deep understanding of the text. It is looking closely at how an author's ideas unfold through a text by examining the plot, vocabulary, syntax, story patterns and/or point of view through multiple re-readings of a piece of literature.
In order to get students to want to reread a text you need a high interest text. I've always known this as a literacy specialist, but last year I was again reminded of how important it is to spend time seeking out texts that will appeal to our students!
Every year I teach a reading class before school. Last year we focused on close reading because I knew the close reading process would help these struggling students in becoming critical readers. Going into the new school year I was very aware that I needed to be strategic about the materials I selected and how I worked with this before school reading class. Not only was I asking students to come work with me before school, but I was asking them to do the most dreaded reading task in a child's mind, to read a text multiple times. It was important to me that the kids wanted to come to work with me before school, and it was also important to me that they were interested in what we were doing. After pouring through lots of short texts it hit me...use songs from Disney movies. They loved it!
Close reading of song lyrics is a purposeful and meaningful way to build background knowledge and strengthen your students’ ability to analyze a text. With this lesson plan, elementary students will practice close reading of complex texts while enjoying popular Disney songs!
Next, I played the song for my students. Now that they were engaged, I went over the purpose for each read and the text-dependent questions for each read.
Together, we read the lyrics for The Lion King's "Circle of Life", each time for a different purpose. Then as a class, we answered the text-dependent questions to gain a deeper meaning.
Text-dependent questions for First Read
1. What is the song about?
2. What are the key ideas or major points in the song?
Text-dependent questions for the Second Read
1. What is the mood of the song?
2. What is the author describing?
3. What words/phrases are repeated? How does the repetition add to the text’s meaning?
INSTRUCTIONAL NOTE: Some words to describe the mood of the song would be: reflective, hopeful, serious.
Text-dependent questions for the Third Read
1. What larger point or message does the lyrics add up to?
2. What is the intended theme of the Disney song?
INSTRUCTIONAL NOTE: One theme in the Circle of Life is the concept of “belonging.” Throughout the song, the line, “Till we find our place” is repeated again and again.
Kit includes activities for the following texts: