Close Reading Skills: Annotating Strategies for Improving Your Child’s Comprehension

These 12 Simple Strategies
will Help Your Child
to Better Understand
Texts

In our modern world of education, we often hear words and phrases like “annotate” and “close reading” that are unfamiliar to us. What does it mean to annotate? What does it mean to master close reading? When students are reading challenging texts, haven’t they always just scribbled random notes in their notebooks about words, phrases, and sentences that they hope to understand later?

Educators and parents have learned over time that using the above strategy for tackling difficult texts is not enough to strengthen students’ reading comprehension. This is evidenced in the students’ past and present experiences with just surviving their way through difficult texts, wading through and temporarily memorizing confusing material in the hopes of earning passing grades. Consequently, students can become discouraged with and disinterested in reading all together.

But learning to annotate important selections as a part of close reading difficult texts can instill encouragement and confidence—two precursors to reading success– in reluctant readers.

Here are 5 ways for your child to annotate important selections of texts with close reading.   

  1. Prepare a comfortable, well-lit workspace with all needed materials: a ruler, readingglasses,text, pens/pencils, spiral binder, bookmarks, tablet or computer (with a safe search feature) for quick research.
  2. Set up your spiral binder for note-taking according to the example below. Write out the text title on the left side. Use a ruler to make 5 column per page. Note headings above the columns. Make as many close reading annotation pages as are needed for the assigned reading.
  3. Warm up to the text by reading or reviewing the cover, back, and table of contents’ organization.
  4. Warm up to the chapter by turning to the section assigned, noting the number of pages assigned; photos, diagrams, and other illustrations; and the organization of the content.
  5. Focus on the assigned reading by remembering that the chapter title provides the spotlight and topic sentences provide the flashlights on the chapter’s organized messages as you go. If you are attending to the material consistently, you should continuously appreciate and understand the organization provided. 
  6. Read the first paragraph (using a horizontal bookmark line-by-line, if necessary) by observing that the material discussed below the topic sentence (flashlight) supports it.
  7. Look up any vocabulary words you don’t know by using an electronic device and note your vocabulary word information as an entry on your close reading annotation page (example below).
  8. Look up any other words or phrases you don’t understand, following the same process as above by recording your information on your close reading annotation page.
  9. Re-read the paragraph with your acquired knowledge to be sure that you understand it now.
  10. Continue this process with each paragraph you don’t understand through the end of your assigned reading.
  11. When you are finished with the assigned reading, review your close reading annotation page, highlighting any areas you will need to study more in-depth for a test.
  12. Study your close reading annotation pages regularly before a test on the chapter, section, or book.

Note: This process may be time-consuming at first, but as you build your close reading and annotation skills you will become more efficient and increasingly well-educated over time! 😊

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