Lesson plan

Three Times a Charm! Close Reading with Annotations

In year six, students are expected to analyze complex texts on a deeper level. Teach your students to use close reading strategies, like rereading and annotation symbols, to dive deeper into fictional texts.
Need extra help for EL students? Try theMain Idea and Details in FictionPre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try theMain Idea and Details in FictionPre-lesson.

Students will be able to use the close reading strategy to understand a text more deeply.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
Response to LiteratureClose Reading ChecklistClose Reading AnnotationsThe Story of the Amulet
  • Show students an unfamiliar image for 10 seconds, like Norman Rockwell's At the Vet's. Then hide the image and ask students to tell you about what they saw. Call on several students to share and urge them to share as many details as they can recall. Prompt them with additional questions, like "How many dogs were in the waiting room?"
  • Show the same image again, but for a longer period of time (about one minute). Hide the image and again call on students to share what they saw.
  • Ask students to reflect on the experience of recalling details with the following questions:
    • "What did you notice the first time you looked at the image?"
    • "How did it feel to look at it again a second time?"
    • "What would happen if you looked at it again?"
  • Explain that this exercise was much like reading. When we read a text one time, we get a big picture, but we don't notice all the details. When we read something more than one time, we begin to notice more about the text.
  • Tell students that today they will practising a skill called Close reading, which is a strategy that allows readers to develop a deep understanding of a text by rereading, making notes, and analyzing details and patterns.
  • Explain that they will be reading a text three times, with a specific focus each time they read. In addition, they will be making notes as they read using Annotation symbolsWhich will help them mark important words and ideas they want to remember.
(10 minutes)
  • Display the abbreviated annotation guide at the top of the Close Reading Annotations worksheet. Review each annotation mark and meaning.
  • Read "The History of Chocolate" aloud and pause to make annotation marks as you read.
  • After reading and marking up the text, explain WhyYou made the marks you did. Explain that making annotations is personal, and will be different for each reader. Remind students that they should not overuse symbols, however, as it can become overwhelming. For example, they should not mark every sentence with a star. They should pick only the most important ideas to mark.
(15 minutes)
  • Hand out the Close Reading Checklist worksheet and read through it as students follow along. Remind students of the lesson's opening activity and reiterate that it is important to read a challenging text more than once.
  • Explain that during the first read, students should be focused on just understanding the big picture. Then, on the second read they can make notes and pay attention to details. Finally, on the third read, they will be able to think more deeply in order to analyze the meaning of the text.
  • Hand out the Response to Literature worksheet and have students make a prediction about the story based on the title, "The Land of the Blue Flower." Call on a few students to share their predictions.
  • Read the story aloud as students follow along. Tell students that this was the First read. Have them talk with a partner about the main idea of the story (i.e., the big picture).
  • Instruct students to read through the text a second time with their partner and use annotations to mark up the text as they read. Keep the annotation guide displayed for student reference.
  • Tell students to read the text a third time on their own. Then, have them work with their partner to answer the questions on the checklist worksheet.
  • After students have answered the questions, have each pair of students combine with another pair to form small groups of four. Give the small groups two minutes to discuss their answers to the questions and compare their annotations. Then call on several students to share their answers with the class.
(15 minutes)
  • Provide a short text, like "The Story of the Amulet," or have students work with a chapter in a book of their choice. (Note: if students are reading a book, demonstrate how they can make annotations using sticky notes.)
  • Instruct students to go independently through the close reading process again using the checklist and annotations.
  • Circulate and offer support as needed.


  • Pre-teach challenging vocabulary that students will encounter in "The Land of the Blue Flower."
  • Strategically form partnerships during guided practise so that struggling readers are paired with fluent readers.
  • Provide dictionaries for students to use as resources while they read.


  • Have students write an analysis of the text after their third read.
  • Encourage students to use this strategy with complex nonfiction texts.
  • Introduce additional annotation symbols.
(5 minutes)
  • Engage students in a self-assessment exercise. Prompt them with several statements and have them hold up a number of fingers to show their understanding (e.g., if they feel that they don't understand a concept or agree with a statement at all, they should hold up one finger and if they have a strong understanding or agreement, they should hold up five fingers).
    • "I can use annotations to make notes while I read."
    • "I focused on the big picture during my first read."
    • "I understood the text more deeply each time I reread."
    • "I would feel comfortable using this close reading strategy independently with other texts."
  • Note student responses to gauge understanding.
(5 minutes)
  • Lead a whole class discussion about the close reading strategy. Ask students to consider the following questions:
    • "When would this strategy be useful? When would it not be useful?"
    • "How did annotations help you think about details? "
    • "What was challenging about this activity? What was surprising?"
    • "What types of texts require close reading?"

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