Implementing the Common Core State Standards: A Primer on "Close Reading of Text"

The purpose of this primer is to assist teachers in understanding close reading and employing it in the classroom, which is an instructional emphasis of the Common Core. The primer addresses the following key questions:

  1. What is close reading of text, and what are its essential attributes? How, and for what purposes, should teachers employ this strategy?
  2. What is the role of background knowledge in the development of reading comprehension, and when should teachers activate and/or provide background knowledge?
  3. What should teachers and district leaders consider about close reading as they prepare to implement it in practice?
Content Comments 

This primer is a solid introduction to the purposes, mechanisms, and implementation considerations for close reading. Like many resources on close reading, this brief article defines and describes the elements of close reading. It also wisely addresses how teachers should deal with the issue of background knowledge: while “research establishes a reciprocal relationship between background knowledge and comprehension,” teachers need to “distinguish between the background knowledge that is required to understand the text and the knowledge sought to be gained from reading the text” (p. 3). Furthermore, this primer points out important aspects of implementing close reading. Close reading is:

  • "a multifaceted strategy for teaching reading” and “should be situated within a broader, comprehensive literacy framework” (p. 3);
  • “not only, or even primarily, and English language arts strategy,” but should be used to deepen content knowledge in all disciplines (p. 4); and
  • "used judiciously and employed for specific learning outcomes” (p. 5).

Despite the wealth of articles and resources on close reading, the content in this resource make it one that will remain useful to teachers and educators who need an introduction or refresher on close reading.