Close and Critical Reading
by Katie Sluiter
The first of the four questions is “What is the text about?”
This seems easy enough, having students summarize what they read, however, many kids have a hard time with this for various reasons. Some students are afraid they won’t write down enough, so they write down every. single. detail. Their “answer” for summarizing a text is almost as long as the text itself. Other kids feel that one sentence is enough, usually just rewriting the title.
Teaching summary is difficult because it requires a LOT of modeling, but it’s incredibly beneficial to students in all areas of the curriculum. It teaches students to break down texts into smaller, more usable chunks. It is a key strategy for note-taking and studying as well. If a student don’t know what she just read, she can’t move deeper into analyzing or evaluating it. She is stuck at lower-level thinking, and worse, she is lost in most of her classes.