What would happen if English/language arts teachers revolutionized their instruction to focus intently—and exclusively—on the texts students are reading?
“close reading” confines initial study to the text itself. Students make sense of it by probing its words and structure for information and evidence.
the chief academic officers of the 14 participating districts expressed praise for the approach, but deep concerns as well, about providing the type of professional development necessary to deliver it well in their districts.
“I’m really worried that we haven’t prepared our teachers for this,” one chief academic officer said.
The CAO “students” were asked to read the passage silently, without any context or background knowledge supplied by their “teacher,” Mr. Pook, except brief word definitions listed in the margin.
One of those questions was: “What words did Freedman use to characterize what happened next?”
The idea, Mr. Pook said, is that this work “moves students toward independence” by developing their abilities to build vocabulary and access a text’s structure; grasp a text’s meaning and build arguments from it based on evidence in the text itself, and eventually build the confidence and stamina to grapple with tough reading on their own.
None of the chief academic officers at the Aspen meeting criticized “close reading” as a goal, and most lauded it. But they saw a rocky road ahead in reaching it.
During a break in the meeting, a group of CAOs brainstormed about approaches to professional development in a big district. A “train-the-trainer” model risks dilution of effectiveness as it gets farther from the original trainers, and yet it’s an immense challenge to free hundreds of teachers at once to attend sessions with experts, they noted. S
Another challenge related to close reading is the looming task of reworking curriculum