Using Google Drive To Teach Close Reading

One of the Language Arts Common Core standards is that students are expected to read text closely to determine what the meaning is and any inferences that can be drawn from it. As an English major in college reading and analyzing text was well-drilled in me. I had to use the text to support my observations and analysis. I did not have a good foundation in this from my schooling prior to college and had to learn it as a new skill in my freshman year.

Close reading is an explicit skill that needs to be taught to students. In a paper format, students would underline or highlight text that they felt was important. In the margin, notes can be written very small to reference what the text meaning or inference was. A teacher would need to collect the paper and notes to review and give feedback. This is not ideal and is not as effective as doing it digitally.

The digital version of this is to copy the text for close reading into Google Drive and sharing it with the class. Students can make a copy for themselves that is shared with the teacher and using the comment feature in Google Docs highlight and provide their own commentary on the text. The teacher can then review the student comments and provide feedback on them. It is also easy to pull up any students close reading comments on the projector and share with the class when the documents have been shared to the teacher.

Here is an example of using Google Drive for a close read. Say I want my students to do a close read of the “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. I could copy the text into a Google document that could be shared with students. I could also include instructions on the same document so it is clear exactly what the students need to do. After the students have highlighted and commented on the poem, I log in to Google Drive and review the submissions in the folder I shared with my students for the assignment. I could review each comment and leave my own comments on their close reading of the text.

Close Read

A variation on this activity would be to have students take a PDF of the text for close reading and bring into Explain Everything where they can highlight and provide comments through audio on their close reading text. This gives students another opportunity to practice their skills and also allows the teacher to listen to each student verbalize their reading of the text.

Eventually students will do close reading more naturally and effectively. The explicit skill will no longer need to be taught and students can focus on writing responses that include text-based evidence.

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