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English Language Arts Blog

The home of Vocab Gal and other educational experts K–12 resources

January 23, 2020 ELA K-5, ELA 6-8, ELA Focus - Close Reading, ELA Resources - Activities

Fun Animal Myths Close Reading Lesson Plan, Grades 4+

In this post, you’ll learn how to get students excited about close reading, using a topic that all kids are crazy about: adorable, fuzzy, cuddly animals! This  article provides detailed implementation instructions, as well as a free downloadable Fun Animal Myths Close Reading Kit, Grades 4+. This kit includes student handouts and a teacher instruction sheet that walks you through three close readings (two written texts and one visual text) and helps guide students to find deeper meanings with increasingly complex text-dependent questions.

animal-myths-close-reading-lesson-plan

I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’re a dedicated and experienced educator who knows literacy instruction—good for you! But for many others (myself included), with faculty meetings, lesson plans, grading, parent-teacher conferences (and on and on), all that information from way back in education school can sometimes get a bit, well, foggy. So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of the lesson, let’s have a short refresher on the basics of close reading.

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Refresher on the Basics of Close Reading

If you’re in the teaching profession, you (knowingly or unknowingly) use close reading on a daily basis. Yes—even you math teachers! At its core, close reading involves deeply analyzing a complex written or visual text in order to find deeper meaning. Just the process of reading deeply itself helps students develop the reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing skills necessary for success in college, the workplace, and beyond.

In terms of importance, close reading skills are at the very top of the “need to know” list.

Through subsequently deeper readings (three, to be exact) and scaffolded literacy activities, students are led to deeper levels of textual engagement and analysis than they ever thought possible. With each reading, students are tasked with steadily rigorous activities, including

  • Annotating the text (while searching for key information)
  • Answering increasingly difficult text-dependent questions that guide them to
    • Find the theme
    • Make connections to other texts, their own lives, and world events
    • Decipher the author’s purpose
    • Analyze the author’s tone
    • Determine the text’s mood
  • Engaging in conversations about the text with peers and working collaboratively to wrestle with the texts’ deeper meanings
  • Explaining the text and articulating opinions/arguments in writing (using the text to support their ideas)

In short, close reading gives students the tools to truly find meaning and enjoyment in reading by showing them how to get to the heart of the text’s message and to understand its purpose.

In terms of importance, close reading skills are at the very top of the “need to know” list. This is mainly because (much to our students’ chagrin), reading complex texts is a ubiquitous task. Simply put, from doing word problems in math, to following experiment procedures in science, to deciphering seemingly indecipherable IKEA assembly diagrams at home, we must analyze complex texts every single day. That’s why it is so important that through the scaffolded experiences of close reading, students hone the vital analytical reading skills needed for success across grade levels and subjects, as well as outside of the classroom.

 

Simply put, from doing word problems in math, to following experiment procedures in science, to deciphering seemingly indecipherable IKEA assembly diagrams at home, we must analyze complex texts every single day.

Fun Animal Myths Close Reading Lesson Plan

What’s really great about planning a close reading lesson is that the skills themselves are transferable across texts. That means that, as educators, we have the freedom to draw on outside sources from a variety of genres in order to excite and engage our students.

animal-myths-close-reading-lesson-plan-worksheets-pdfNot only is this fun, but pulling in different types of texts is also hugely beneficial to students. Studies show that using multiple genres, coupled with visuals (all on the same theme) aids in comprehension of the texts themselves as well as in developing conceptual understanding of the topic.

Having multiple exposures to the same subject also widens students’ pool of background knowledge (which they will dip into when faced with the subject matter again). To top it all off, analyzing multiple types of texts also prepares students for high-stakes assessments, where they will be tasked to analyze a variety of text genres on one topic.

It’s all those incredible benefits and more that are making me so excited to share with you this Fun Animal Myths Close Reading Kit, Grades 4+. This research-based, close reading instructional kit will get your students excited for their next ELA lesson and help strengthen their ability to analyze complex texts. With this lesson students will:

  • Analyze two written texts and one visual text about the topic of animal myths
  • Complete multiple reads of each text
  • Practice annotating skills
  • Answer increasingly difficult text-dependent questions
  • Reflect, write, and make connections across texts

I hope this free download of the Fun Animal Myths Close Reading Kit, Grades 4+ will push your students to engage deeply with complex texts and get them jumping for joy at the thought of their next, fun-filled, animal-friendly ELA lesson!

In Summary

Let’s face it, teachers: when you move beyond elementary school (where other discrete skills like phonics and spelling are a big part of the ELA curriculum), close reading is really what English Language Arts class is all about. As the meat and potatoes of an ELA class, it’s a task that’s never going away. (You hear that students? It’s NEVER GOING AWAY! Cue my evil teacher laugh!)

Close reading, then, is vital for student success in any subject, in any class, and across grade levels. Students must be able to read deeply in order to engage with and analyze difficult passages literally everywhere: science, social studies, math, Art History 101, the DMV—anywhere they might encounter a complex piece of writing, they’ll need to have close reading skills in their tool belt.