Last Saturday at #TCRWP, we had a lot of choices to make about sessions. During the drive to New York City, my friends and I spent time reading through the session descriptions and coming up with our priority list. So many amazing presenters were going to be there! It was difficult to prioritize. For me, there were a few musts. I wasn’t leaving New York City until I saw Diane Ravitch and Kate Roberts. The last session of the day was the session we agreed on to see Kate Roberts: Falling in Love with Close Reading.
Dear Kate Roberts,
We were lucky to arrive in time to get great seats. As soon as you walked in, the energy level went up.
Earlier this year I read Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts–and Life. I had heard so many people talk about and I had read so many things about “close reading” that seemed, well… boring, and non-authentic. But I started to see tweets, and then I read some blogs, including A Day in the Life of a Close Reader. Soon I was reading your book, and well, I fell in love! The passion that surrounds the book and your presentation last Saturday about close reading is contagious.
You reminded me that…
- As humans we already know how to come back to something look at the details that we love
- Students know how to close read because they do it with the things they love in this world
- We need close reading structure and ritual
- We should be reaching for happiness, engagement and independence
- Close reading is part of a balanced reading instruction
Thank you for taking us through a close read of “Let it Go.” You inspired us with your energy. I loved how you walked around recording what we were saying and used that information to continue the close read. The ritual and structure were there, and it was fluid; the way you showed us how to go from first read, to finding evidence to finding patterns to finding understanding.
All too quickly, your session was over, and my friend K said: Go! She knew I wanted to meet you.
It’s not my normal personality to jump up and go introduce myself to someone I admire. I had a flashback to years ago (pre-kids) when my husband and I went to a Tori Amos concert at a small venue, right at the time when she was really outgrowing small venues. I remember sitting next to my husband about halfway back as the concert began. When Tori came out on stage, we all got up and I quickly noticed that a lot of people were running towards the stage. I left my husband in the dust, of course, and went closer. I was nervous that I’d get in trouble. If I had more confidence, I could have easily gotten right up to the stage. I stopped pretty close though – and there I stood for the whole concert. We also stood in a small crowd near the stage door and waited for Tori to come out, which she did. She spoke to some fans who were confident enough to push their way into a conversation, and I’ll always regret not pushing my way in to say hello and thank you.
I don’t know if I’m comparing you to Tori Amos here, or not… but I was determined last Saturday to not leave with regret about not pushing my way in to tell you that I so admire your work and your ideas. So I did. I jumped out of my chair, and pretended it was my normal personality to introduce myself.
Thank you for acting like it was a totally normal thing for me. Thank you for shaking my hand, asking my name, asking if I was on twitter, and agreeing to a picture. Thanks for letting my friend K sneak around the table to join the picture.
When I came back to school this week, I was fired up about close reading. I had been rolling around an idea of having the kids choose songs, videos, etc. to practice the ritual of close reading more independently, so that’s what we’ve been working on this week.
Today students sat happily engaged. They independently close read songs and you tube videos.
My intern and I walked around and listened in to their thinking. We discussed and scaffolded. We were impressed… and jealous! We both wanted to do the activity too!
Then, one of my students blurted out: “This if fun! We should do this over and over again!”
Thank you, Kate Roberts!