Close Thinking

Learning Strategy
  • Appropriate text
  • Close Thinking Planning Guide
Target Student

Students who struggle to understand a passage after hearing it one time.


Close Thinking is a strategy for complex texts that develops the students’ understanding through multiple opportunities to hear the same text. It is based on the thinking that each time the student hears the text, something new is discovered. Each time a student hears a short, complex text read aloud to them, the level of thinking becomes more in depth allowing the student to grasp the reading better and better each time. Teachers must scaffold this strategy to engage the students in a deep dive of the text and influential discussion.

How To

1. Choose a short, complex text that is appropriate for the student or class.

2. Identify the standard that correlates with the focus and purpose of the lesson.

3. Identify the areas of complexity and potential problem areas for your students.

4. Determine how the text with be chunked and how the students with number the lines of the text.

5. Create text-dependent questions.

6. First read-aloud. The first read-aloud should be based upon your complexity analysis. Explain the purpose of the lesson to the students and utilized text-dependent questions that surround what the text says. This first read-aloud gives the students a chance to annotate and/or share their answers with partners or groups. The first read-aloud is about letting the students get familiar naturally with the text.

7. Second read-aloud. The second read-aloud should be planned based on the answers and responses from students over the course of the first read-aloud. Text-dependent questions should now be asked with the purpose of bringing the students back to the text to answer how the text works and deepen their understanding. The use of a graphic organizer, paired discussion, and/or annotation Is encouraged.

8. Third read-aloud. The third read-aloud is all about critical thinking, inference, and intertextual connections to discover what the text means and answer text-based questions. Again, shared responses and answers among peers and partners is encouraged.

9. Assessments. Allow the students to demonstrate their understanding of the text and what they have learned from their Close Reading by completing a writing assignment or multimedia project.

Adapted from 40 Strategies for Guiding Readers through Informational Texts

(Moss, B., & Loh-Hagan, V. (2016). 40 strategies for guiding readers through informational texts. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.) 


Jordan, H. J. (2000). How a seed grows (Let's read and find out science 1). New York: HarperCollins. (P)

Kurland, D. (n.d.). Dan Kurland's Reading and writing Ideas as well as words. Retrieved June 10, 2015, from

Lapp, D., Moss, B., Grant, M., & Johnson, K. (2015). A close look at close reading: Teaching students to analyze complex texts K-5. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Lapp, D., Moss, B., Johnson, K., & Grant, M. (in press). Turning the page on close reading: Differentiated scaffolds for close reading instruction. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for the English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects: Appendix B. Text exemplars and sample performance tasks. Washington, DC: Authors.

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