As a rookie-teacher I remember the pain of introducing a topic/concept and watching students struggle with it. Some innate force pressed me to prompt and cue students until I either gave them the answers or led the to door of it. Ultimately, I found it much easier to give my students the answers instead of allowing them to explore the content and discover them.
The Common Core standards demand our students to struggle and for students to learn and grow from that struggle.
Ryan McCarty from the Teaching Channel has an excellent post on the importance of struggle in an ELA classroom. In the article Mr. McCarty outlines how close reading allows teachers to allow the productive struggle, but still provide support for students in ELA. He explains close reading as:
Close reading is an example of how students can struggle productively with complex texts. Though there are many approaches, close reading always requires multiple reads of a short, high-quality text, and ample opportunities for discussion.
3 Steps to Doing a Close Reading
1. What the text says: A typical sequence of close reading instruction begins with minimal pre-reading. Students do the first reading on their own to get a basic understanding of what the text says. They annotate what they think is important or what they find confusing in the text and then discuss with peers. It’s important that they should not expect to get everything the first time around.
2. How the text says it: Next, students read the text again, focusing on how the text says it; examining the author’s craft and structure to determine how the text works. This second reading may be accompanied by a teacher read aloud and think aloud targeting a related strategy. This is followed by a series of text-dependent questions.
3. What it all means: The third reading accompanies a discussion of what it all means. Students revisit the text to determine lessons or insights about the human condition, evaluate the arguments presented in the text, or make connections to other texts. Finally, they write a response, supported with textual evidence. This in-depth engagement with complex text as part of close reading will help students meet the CCSS.