I've been working on developing 3 levels of Close Reading questions for each Journeys lesson. With Unit 1 in Journeys over with, I can safely say so far, so good! I'm excited about the difference I'm seeing between my fourth graders' written responses to grade level text between last year and this year. Of course no two groups are the same, but they are so much more focused and prolific, and their notebooks are much more organized.
The way I approach the progression of questions I create for each lesson, is I think of Close Reading as the next generation of QAR questions. When I developed comprehension questions for each text, I started out with very basic questions about the text for the first Close Read that can really be answered in one word, such as the characters and the setting. For the second Close Read, however, they need "reasons," "evidence to support their answer," "details from the text," or "proof." Thus, they are seeing the language of the test every week. The "question" in a second Close Read is more of a prompt, such as, "Use details from the text to prove that Miss Franny was lonely." The answers to the question are "Right There" in the text, however I tell them the goal for answering is a paragraph (with a minimally accepted answer of 2 sentences).
At this point in the year, we have started with the "Level 3 Close Read" questions. These questions require some inferential thinking or an opinion in addition to evidence from the text. Since this is a more complex answer than the other 2, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to merge the idea of Close Reads with the fabulous Keys to Literacy training I received on 2 column notes! Here is one of the level 3 Close Reading questions I modeled for my class:
I used a text the kids had read earlier in the year as a model for teaching character traits. We used a list of possible traits as a scaffold to answer this prompt with opinions before looking for proof in the story. The result was kids were able to organize a variety of ideas about a character, as well as locate text based evidence to support their thinking!