Informational Text—Close Reading

  Research Says ...

“A close reading is a careful and purposeful reading… It’s an encounter with the text where students really focus on what the author had to say, what the author’s purpose was, what the words mean, and what the structure of the text tells us.” (Douglas Fisher)

Learning to read and comprehend informational text is so important! 

We read informational text to build our knowledge of the world. It is this world knowledge that allows us to understand, visualize and make meaningful connections to the literature we read. Ultimately, our understanding of how the world works today, as well as how it has worked in the past, is critical in helping us to be successful in navigating our lives each day.

Readtopia uses the research-based strategy of Close Reading as a way for students to look and listen carefully to informational text. Informational passages focus on science and social studies topics related to the literature they are reading. Students become familiar with 10 common text types as they learn to extract relevant information from different sources. The following text types are repeated throughout the thematic units:

Directions Claims and Details
Articles with Sidebars Fantastic Facts
Biographies Compare and Contrast
Charts & Graphs Maps
Timelines Two Text Types (on the Same Topic)

Karen Erickson discusses the close reading / informational text component of Readtopia.

Coming soon

Close Reading passages are presented at four levels of complexity. Each passage has “on-the-back” activities that increase the rigor of instruction, encourage students to think about what they learned and apply their learning.

How Close Reading Instruction Works with Informational Text Types!

The Close Reading / informational text lessons follow the research-supported reading strategies of AnchorRead and Apply. Students begin each lesson as a whole group to access and share background knowledge. Next, they practice close reading skills in small groups before returning to the large group to discuss and share their learning.

Sample close reading lesson
Informational Text / Close Reading Lesson (Front)


Activate and build background knowledge related to the text type and/or the Close Reading Passage content as a whole group. Teachers provide a clear and compelling Purpose for Reading.


Read in small groups for a clear and compelling purpose.

  • Emergent: Shared Reading
  • Transitional: Shared and/or Guided Reading
  • Conventional: Independent/Silent Reading


Work in small groups to think about and respond to what was learned from reading the passage. Students can work alone or as a group as appropriate to support and optimize the learning of students at each level. Model and encourage students to re-read the informational text as often as needed and "hold answers in their heads" in order to successfully complete the activity. 

During or after completing the on the back activity, engage in group discussion and provide informative feedback to help students understand what they did to get the right (or wrong) answers in the task they have just completed. (It’s about the process, not the right answers.) The goal of the on the back activity is to focus students on Close Reading and how to complete the task successfully, rather than to simply provide reinforcement for correct answers.

Sample close reading lesson
Informational Text / Close Reading Lesson (Back)

  Research Says ...

“At least two different aspects of written language or text comprehension must be addressed through instruction. The first is knowledge of text structures and the assumptions that authors make about readers. The second is knowledge of the world and the receptive understandings of vocabulary and other oral language skills. Developing knowledge of text structures requires experience with a broad range of text types…” (Erickson, Hatch & Clendon, 2010)

Strategies to Promote Active Listening and Participation in Discussions

Think—Pair—Share: A collaborative discussion strategy

  • Think: Teacher poses a question. Students think silently for a moment about an answer to the question.
  • Pair: Students turn to a peer to discuss and compare their individual answers. Then, student pairs identify the answer(s) they think are best, most convincing, etc.
  • Share: Teacher asks each pair to share their thinking with the class. Answers can be printed on a whiteboard or chart paper for later reference and further class discussion.

Listen and Summarize

Have one student summarize another student’s answer. This strategy serves to encourage active participation by all students (even those who lack self-confidence or are fearful of volunteering an incorrect answer) and promotes an atmosphere of collaborative learning. And when students know they may be asked to summarize another’s answer, they will listen more closely to their peers.

Close Reading Assessment

It is important to use regular, informative assessment—including observation of students as they participate in lessons—to look for opportunities to move them up to a higher developmental reading level. The incremental design of Close Reading text lets you respond to student progress more quickly by offering a relatively small increase in challenge from one level to the next. Moving to a new text level provides the excitement and recognition that will motivate students in their growth as readers.

Go to Resources to view all assessment tools.

Coming soon

Lesson Participation Rubric

Three times during each book (beginning, middle, and end), use the Readtopia Lesson Participation Rubric to monitor students’ response to instruction. The rubric can be used to monitor a student’s participation during comprehension, video and close reading lessons. Data is easily collected and compared across Thematic Units to show growth over time.

Cumulative Close Reading Assessment

Assess overall close reading comprehension at the end of each unit using leveled assessment tools offering questions in three formats: matching, multiple select, and Yes/No. (The format of these tests is modeled after today’s rigorous state testing.)

Sample close reading assessments
Close Reading Assessments

Thematic Units