Collaborative Strategic Reading

Unlock additional close reading strategies to build academic conversations and a structured classroom environment.

By Matthew Spinogatti

Student reading group

Have you started incorporating close reading strategies into your classroom yet? And more importantly, how is it working out? Let’s talk about enhancing your current strategies to include student collaboration that will assist pupils with reading more complex texts without reducing the amount of rigor in the classroom.

Enhancing the Close Reading Experience

Collaborative strategic reading is a technique used by small groups of students (preferably four or five) in an attempt to both read and better comprehend texts. This strategy does several things:

1. Allows for student collaboration while learners are still involved in close reading.

2. Divides the text into sections, allowing for better access and conversation.

3. Provides a cooperative learning environment that enforces comprehension strategies.

4. All but guarantees student involvement and participation.

Collaborative strategic reading is itself broken down into four categories. In order to be truly effective, these categories should be modeled and practiced as a whole class prior to small-group implementation.

Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR)

1. Before the Reading: Preview
This initial step should take place with any text, but in this case it is being carried out within a small group of four or five students. They should review the title, heading, and subheadings, and look at any images that may be included. The group should discuss what they already believe they know about this topic and make predictions based on the preview.

2. During the Reading: Click and Clunk
This term refers to reading the text as a group and discussing it. The “click” refers to when the reading is smooth or easy. Students understand what is being said and the vocabulary being used. The “clunk” refers to sections that may be difficult, ambiguous, or contain vocabulary that is difficult. Close reading appropriate grade-level texts should include a bit of both. The important part of this step comes with addressing the “clunks” as a group. After each section read, groups should reread difficult or confusing sentences or paragraphs, analyze, and ask for assistance. As they read, learners clarify each other’s understanding of the text.

3. During the Reading: Get the Gist
At the end of each section, the group will summarize the main point and emphasize the supporting details. The concept of self-monitoring is an integral part of close reading strategies.

4. After the Reading: Wrap Up
Once they finish, the group members will revisit step one and address whether or not their predictions about the piece of text were accurate. Next, they will generate questions and answers that highlight the main point of the text as well as the supporting facts for the piece.

Assigning Group Roles

To be sure that all students are participating in this collaborative process, it is important to assign roles and responsibilities. The five outlined below should be used and rotated among the group members for each text read so that everyone does each of the jobs over the course of the school year.

  • Leader: Makes sure strategies are being used and performed in proper order
  • Clunk Expert: Leads discussion on difficult sections or words
  • Announcer: Makes sure everyone has a chance to participate
  • Reporter: Shares the group's work with class
  • Timer: Monitors group time and makes sure task is completed

By incorporating collaborative strategic reading strategies into the classroom, you will provide the opportunity for students to complete close reading strategies in a meaningful and structured way. How do you have your students productively collaborate in the classroom?

Additional Resources

Activities to Support ComprehensionReading AccountabilityCollege Ready