Beginning to Close Read {Notice and Note}

Like many of you, my district is transitioning to Common Core this year.  The past two years we have heard rumblings of it, but full implementation has now completely begun.

With this transition comes many "new" ideas that are getting a lot of attention, one of them being "close reading."

Now, I would love to say that of course I have been teaching close reading all along.  My students regularly read for evidence of questions that I pose, scouring the text to find the answer that I am seeking.  However, I am just not sure that that is enough.  So for the past few weeks (in between feedings and playing with the baby....during naptime :) ) I have been searching around for all that I can about this idea of Close Reading and what it will mean for me as a teacher.

One of the best resources I have found so far is Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Beers and Probst.  If you know anything about me at all, you know that I love easy to follow ideas that get the most bang out of my buck....and this book does just that.

Looking at the Common Core Standards, Beers and Probst have been able to take what they know about reading and use what they call signposts to up the rigor within the passages themselves.  The simple signposts are things that will be found in most of the literature that we are using with our students.  What's more, the book outlines lessons to do (even giving the wording to use!) to introduce these signposts to the students.  Score on that one!

What I liked best about the book was the explanation of rigor.  The word is thrown around so much these days, and how they explained it -- as a product of the interaction with the text, NOT the difficulty level of it -- really hit home.  It is just along my lines of thinking and I am glad that I am not the only one who thinks of rigor in this manner.  It isn't just assigning something hard and calling it a day.  It is how you dissect the text and work with it that makes a piece of literature or informational text rigorous.  

Well, after reading this book, my brain began spinning with all of the ideas that I now wanted to implement in my classroom.  I definitely want to use the signposts and make them part of my instruction.   In order to streamline things a bit, I premade some anchor charts for my room.  The charts include the signpost, the definition, and the anchor question....seriously, I just copied them from the book.  :)  But what I did add were some icons for each of the signposts.  I figure the students can learn the icons, since they will be posted, and when noting the signposts they have found in their reading, they can use the icon with it.  Sort of a visual aid for them.

I also made up these signpost trifolds (something I adapted from an idea in the book) as well as a bookmark to accompany them.  The icons are on all of these, which I hope will help.   For the trifolds, I plan to use them to record when the students find the various signposts in their reading.  They can be used for one text or multiple texts.....then go in their reading journals. 
 As for the bookmarks, I am going to copy them on cardstock and ask the students to use them while reading their books of choice (ala The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child ) so they can find the signposts in their independent reading as well.   Click on either pink link above to access the trifolds and bookmarks on google docs.

I am in the initial stages of planning for my class, but I wanted to share these tools with you now so that once I start using them, you can be on the same page with me.   I have also started a pinterest board for Close Reading with all of the resources I am finding.  As I find more, I will pin more.  If you would like to follow that board, it is here :) 

Have you read Notice and Note?  What are some things you took away from it?  Any helpful hints for me to use while getting started with it in my classroom? Here is a link to Notice and Note if you would like to begin reading it as well.


  1. I am just now starting on that same journey! Implementation doesn't start until next year, but we've been asked to get our toes wet with close reading activities. I'm just about to start reading Notice and Note as I figured that would be a good place to start. Thanks so much for sharing your trifold and bookmarks.

  2. I did this journey last year! I started my own Close Reading Pinterest board to collect everything I had found because I knew NOTHING about it. It helped me to create evidence based term posters to hang up in my classroom. I haven't heard of that book but I will look into it now! Thanks for the great post!

  3. This book has been on my Amazon wish list for a while. I think I am officially convinced to purchase it now.

    Thank you, and happy Thanksgiving!

    Fit to be Fourth

  4. Thanks for the book recommendation! After a lot of research, I am starting to wrap my head around close reading. It is starting to click for me now, but for awhile, all I could picture was a kid reading with a book close to their face - haha!

    Sara :)
    The Colorful Apple

  5. Thanks for the recommendation! I think I'm going to purchase this book. I am intrigued by the signpost idea.

    The Best Days

  6. I'm just getting into close reading this year too and I am so excited about everything you have shared--thank you!!! I am checking out the book right now on Amazon. Thanks again Stephanie and Happy Thanksgiving!!

  7. Funny you should write about close reading using this specific book! The book is sitting on my nightstand waiting for me to read you have inspired me to "get on the ball!" It came highly recommended by our curriculum consultant and I purchased it a couple of months ago, but just hadn't taken the time to start reading. Thank you for the "goodies" you included...I'm looking forward to implementing them with my third graders.

  8. Even though Virginia doesn't use Common Core (yet), I have been trying to find an applicable way to use Close Reading for awhile now. Thank you so much for sharing the trifolds and bookmarks!

  9. I teach first grade. Does the book have things applicable for the lower grades? I enjoyed your post!
    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

  10. I rolled it out briefly with my freshmen in November and had them use it with the book Of Mice and Men. We didn't have time to really introduce them all the way I wanted but I just wanted to see what they would do with them and it was great! I plan to go back and spend more time on each of the signposts after break when we use them with Romeo and Juliet. I love how well it allows for differentiation for kids reading and comprehending at a variety of levels. The only thing I would suggest, that I'm still struggling with, is that you keep the trifold more general. I made something similar but then the kids found that in certain sections/books there were a huge number of "again and again" signposts but no "words of the wiser" and I had only given them room for three of each. I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to handle this going forward but I just had them adjust their chart so they wrote in the name of whichever sign post it was that they found and then they had questions to answer that went with each signpost from a master chart. If that makes sense :-) Thanks for the great ideas with the bookmark and the symbols! LOVE IT!

  11. does anyone want to start a Notice and Note linky party?

  12. Have you read "How to Read Literature Like a Professor for Kids" by Thomas C. Foster? It came out last April, but I just came across it recently. It's an explanation of how various details you might "Notice and Note" relate to other stories or various themes, and why they might be important. I wasn't in English major in college, so I didn't really understand how literature really worked, and I think this book will help me help my students explore more productively as we begin close reading. Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  13. My principal has been talking a lot about Close at staff meetings and shared some info. It was great to run across your blog tonight! Thank you for sharing and your insight. I'm now following your Close on Pinterest as well.

  14. Good one and thanks a lot for sharing!

  15. Do you have an update post? How'd it go?

  16. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the lovely trifolds!

  17. I ordered the Notice and note book. Are your classroom charts in that book?

    1. They are! I just copied them directly from the book :)

  18. Thanks so much for sharing your trifold!

  19. Thanks so much for sharing your trifold!


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