Jaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
Over the next several weeks, I’ll be modeling how to do a close reading at several different grade levels. Last week, I wrote about close reading in Kindergarten. Next up: Close Reading in First Grade using the H level text Pop Pop and Grandpa by Mary Dixon Lake and illustrated by Christiane Kromer.
In terms of student questioning, start general and move up Bloom’s Taxonomy by gradually increasing the rigor. For example, say you want to focus your close reading of Pop Pop and Grandpa on the setting and events of the story (1st grade Literature Standard, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, strand 7, from the Common Core Standards). Here are the questions I would ask:
Question 1 (Knowledge): Where does Pop Pop live? Where does Grandpa live? Why did the little boy have to take a plane to see Grandpa? How would you describe where Pop Pop lives? How would you describe where Grandpa lives? Use key details from the story to support your answer.
Question 2 (Comprehension): How are Pop Pop and Grandpa the same? How are they different? How do you know? Think about where they live, what they like to do and what happened in the story.
Question 3 (Comprehension): How would you summarize the story? What happened when the little boy visited Pop Pop? What happened when the boy visited Grandpa? Use key details from the story to support your answer.
Question 4 (Application): How could you organize what you learned about Pop Pop and Grandpa to show how they are alike and how they are different?
Question 5 (Analysis): How does Pop Pop feel about where he lives? How does Grandpa feel about where he lives? What makes you think that? Use key details from the story to support your answer.
Question 6 (Synthesis): Suppose you could write a story about what happens when the little boy visits two different relatives. Where would you choose for each to live? What would they do together during the visit?
Question 7 (Synthesis): How would the story have been different if both Pop Pop and Grandpa lived on an island? How would it have been the same? Do you think the little boy and Pop Pop would have done the same things if Pop Pop lived in the same neighborhood as Grandpa? What makes you think that?
Question 8 (Evaluation): Why do you think the author chose for there not to be a problem or a solution in the story? What was the author’s purpose in writing this story?
Additional questions to ask:
- Does either setting remind you of somewhere you know? How is it similar or different to someplace you’ve been?
- Think about what the little boy did with each grandfather. Was this similar or different to what you do with your grandparents? How so?
- Would you like to visit either Grandpa or Pop Pop where they live? Why or why not?
- Think about where Pop Pop lives and what the little boy did when he was there. What does it look like? Smell like? Feel like? Sound like? Taste like? Think about where Grandpa lives and what the little boy did when he was there. What does it look like? Smell like? Feel like? Sound like? Taste like? Does each setting always look/smell/feel/sound/taste the same, or does it change over the course of the story? Use key details from the story to support your answer.
- How was the setting important to what happened in the story? How would the story have been different if Grandpa lived in a big city like New York City? If Pop Pop lived in the middle of the woods? How do you know?
- How did the author and illustrator make the setting realistic? What key details did they include?
- How did the author set up the events in the story? Why do you think she chose to set up the story that way?
- What clues (either in the words or in the pictures) were the most useful in understanding the story?
- If you could rename this story, what would you call it? Why? Why do you think the author chose to call the story “Pop Pop and Grandpa”?
- What was the most important event in the story? What makes you think that?
What are your favorite questions to ask when doing a close reading focused on setting and events?
Further reading on teaching literacy in First Grade:
Further reading on Close Reading series: