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The Art of Close Reading (Part Three)


by Richard Paul and Linda Elder

In the previous two columns we introduced the idea of close reading, emphasizing the importance of the following:

   • understanding your purpose in reading

• understanding the author’s purpose in writing

• seeing ideas in a text as being interconnected

• looking for and understanding systems of meaning

• engaging a text while reading

• getting beyond impressionist reading

• formulating questions and seeking answers to those questions while reading


To read well, in addition to having the above understandings, students must be able to identify the big picture within a text, to determine the key ideas within the text early on, and to see the scaffolding that connects all the ideas within the text. In other words, they need to develop structural reading abilities. Moreover, students need to see that there are generalizable skills one must develop to read sentences and paragraphs well. In addition, students must develop reading skills specific to reading certain kinds of texts – like textbooks, newspaper articles and editorials.

In this column we will focus on the theory of close reading. We will discuss “structural reading” first. We will then make some basic points about....

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