September 16, 2013
by Annemarie Palincsar
“Close reading” has been hailed a means of teaching students how to comprehend complex text and it has been vilified for ignoring fundamental tenets of how we read and learn from text. It has been lauded as a means of leveling the playing field for all readers and criticized for the risk of disaffecting students who are already disinclined to choose reading as a means of interacting with the world.
Prompted by the emphasis that the Common Core State Standards place on close reading, and struck by the debate that swirls around this topic, the IRA Literacy Research Panel approached LRP member Dr. Catherine Snow, Harvard Graduate School of Education, to prepare a policy brief that would inform educators, educational leaders, and policy makers about close reading.
This brief is now available in free online and PDF versions:
Close Reading and Far-Reaching Classroom Discussion: Fostering a Vital Connection
Dr. Snow and her co-author, Dr. Catherine O’Connor, School of Education, Boston University, clarify what close reading entails and compare it with the reading in which students might typically engage. They address how teaching for close reading differs from more traditional instructional practice specific to comprehension. Perhaps most usefully, they offer four cautions regarding widespread reliance on close reading.
Annemarie Palincsar, a member of the IRA Literacy Research Panel, is the Jean and Charles Walgreen Jr. Chair of Reading and Literacy and a teacher educator in Educational Studies at the University of Michigan, email@example.com.