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Using Close Reading To Improve Critical Thinking Skills: A Project

3134 words - 13 pages

Objectives
In producing my project my objectives are:
• To integrate close reading strategies with the literacy/science curriculum to improve critical thinking outcomes with a group of 45 kindergarteners in a medium sized suburban kindergarten classroom
• To determine if using close reading can help close the increasing achievement gap between kindergarten and first grade Hispanic and non-Hispanic learners
• To develop a variety of close reading activities that can be used in kindergarten and first grade classes
• To share my knowledge and results with colleagues at my school
Project Description
My project has been to investigate how to implement close reading strategies as a means to develop critical thinking skills starting in kindergarten. Dominant factors in close reading include: multiple readings of complex text that help the reader understand and interpret the text, question the author, connect to the text and comprehend the vocabulary by creating images based on the author’s words. (Lassonde, 2009, 6) Why close reading? Until recently, it was commendable to have students make a connection to the text. According to Boyles (2012) teaching students to make reader/text connections “veered significantly off track”. The ideology behind close reading is a shift from simply making connections to self, to the text, to the world, etc. which, until a few years ago, was thought to create metacognitive readers to thinking critically about what the author is saying. Personal connections left readers with little knowledge of the actual text and created a discussion for images that popped into the reader’s head instead of finding evidence in the text. (Boyles, 2012, 2) The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC 2011) found that close reading of complex text leads to significant gains reading proficiency in both struggling and advanced readers. I am investigating whether close reading will help students, specifically Hispanics; develop a better understanding of analytic text. Through the process, I am modeling close reading through think-alouds to help students answer text dependent questions and begin to ask questions about the author’s purpose. Students are learning to make inferences, refer back to the text, and have discussions about confusing parts or new vocabulary as well as making connections. These skills align with the Common Core State Standards as well as the PARCC assessment. CCSS require students to understand what the text means and be able to defend their opinions about the text using evidence from the text. (Patterson, 2012) The process can begin in kindergarten and continue through high school and beyond.
Project Rationale
The reason for selecting this project is I am a general education teacher with a class of diverse learners. In one of my half-day kindergarten classes, 10 of 22 students are Hispanic. According to the 2013 Illinois School Report Card, 55% of the student population...

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