Managing to bring the spacious Schomburg auditorium to a warm, intimate setting, Pam Allyn, Founder of LitLife and LitWorld, led a workshop on how close reading can help students during the Schools That Can National Forum on Friday, May 16 in Harlem. Educators reflected on how each one had to take a second look at the last piece of text each read. One mentioned an article she last read from her email and another noted the GuideBook app used for the forum.

Allyn went on to explain what Close Reading is through a series of slides. It’s basically a deeper, more personal analysis of text. It’s used to help readers better understand what they’re learning. Allyn had attendees take a moment to contemplate with a partner how they handle reading comprehension strategies in the classroom. She went on to discuss about text trees; how the trunk is the base of understanding the text and how the roots are the elements that we cannot see, but must dig deeper to understand what we’re reading.

She then went on to describe the 7 Core Ready Lenses; a reader’s toolkit to “zooming in” to text. The seven included:

The Personal Lens – Interpretation based on the reader’s own experience(s)

The Linguistic Lens – Focus on the author’s language

The Semantic Lens – Focus on the meaning of words

The Analytical  Lens – Focus on inference for why a text was written

The Context Lens – An interpretation on the historical, social and political contexts surrounding the text

The Metaphoric Lens – A focus on the metaphoric meaning behind words

The Critical Lens – A focus on critiquing the text

Attendees dove deeper into the workshop as Allyn continued with how close reading can be incorporated to help children in the primary grades. It’s easier for young minds to understand a text once they can look, listen, read and then analyze what they’re seeing. It even helps for educators to use visual images to help students better understand text. She even brought up one photo of a child jumping into a pool. In one classroom where this photo was used, a child mentioned how the photo looked both happy and sad. By just looking at the photo, children can really “jump into” and comprehend text by the visual imagery.

With the upper grades, a much more critical analysis must be enforced. They have a variety of ways to look at a text using the 7 lenses. For example, Allyn looked the Gettysburg address and brought up ways for students to understand the intent the former US President was delivering in his message.

The discussion ended with educators seemingly content with the presentation and ready to take on their reading curriculum with a fresh, new lens.