The New Norms for Learning in HPL

Close Reading

Constructing and Deepening Understandings:

What does it say? What does it mean? What is the author doing?

What do I know? What else? How do I know? What don’t I know?

Close Reading in HPL

Close Reading in HPL focuses on teaching students how to make decisions as readers. Strategic readers learn how to monitor their understandings and their decisions. They know how to tell  when they understand, when they don’t understand, and when they only sort of understand. And they know what to do to figure things out. 

Becoming strategic and independent means that readers not only learn what to do and how to do it, they must also know when a strategy is working, when it isn’t, and when it’s time to change course. Strategic readers and thinkers understand that comprehending and learning take time and effort. Understandings don’t simply “arrive” when the words have been correctly read. They are built by the reader, by thinking, rethinking, rereading, and considering possible alternatives. 

At the heart of deep comprehension is talk, both self-talk and interactive talk to learn. You’ll notice that talking to learn is built into HPL close reading processes, anchored below. We understand the connection between time, effort, thinking, explaining, and learning. We know that when readers have difficulty building understandings about a topic, we shouldn’t simply chalk it up to “lack of background knowledge.” There are things we can do to build background to understand concepts and ideas that are new and difficult. 


Anchoring Close Reading in HPL

After the teacher demonstrates HPL close reading processes, the teacher and students anchor the experience together, noticing and naming what they saw the teacher do. Anchor Chart are then posted where students can see it and use it as a scaffold while they practice close reading daily (with many more mini-lessons).

Anchor charts also provide a set of look-fors for the teacher, who now carefully observes students to determine what they have taken over and can do on their own, and what they still need help with. These focused observations of students at work allow the teacher to flexibly form small groups of students to provide additional instruction and support, focused on what particular students need. 

Generative Questions for Close Reading

Generative Questions are a set of general questions we teach students to ask themselves as they transact with texts. GQs are intended to keep students thinking as they read. They are “generative” because they help to generate ideas and inferences, and they build the need to look further into the text for evidence to support those ideas and inferences. Students who internalize GQs understand that there is always more to consider, always other ways to think about what an author has written.Generative Questions are intended to generate thinking, talking about texts, explaining, citing evidence, and staying with ideas so that understandings can deepen and provoke new questions.

The document on the left lists the Generative Questions. Note that the first few are the most important to teach students to internalize. The annotated version, at right, explains the purpose of each question.

Generative Questions Anchor Chart

Closely Reading Images Spiral

Learning from texts requires close reading, and there is a wide range of texts to learn from. Photographs, illustrations, captions, graphics, charts–they’re not just decorative. Authors put them there for good reason. This spiral provides a list of the essential reading behaviors students need to develop in order to learn from images and graphics.

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