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Fisher and Frey on Close Reading in Schools

The multiple approaches towards close reading, discussed by Fisher and Frey (2012), regard the issue that some of the teachers might face when introducing close reading to students. Not every student is eager to follow the strategies, and some might find them too difficult to implement during the learning process. For example, struggling and alliterate readers will possibly need the background information to understand the ideas expressed in the text. Therefore, it appears reasonable to include frontloading and provide background knowledge to those students who might have a hard time trying to comprehend the text without any additional information (Fisher & Frey, 2014). What seems like a good exercise for an avid reader might become a disaster for a struggling one.

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However, if the teacher sees that students, even the struggling ones, have the potential to develop understanding without being introduced to background information, she or he can provide a text that does not need this background or has it in itself. Thus, students will be more attentive to the text because it will be their task to find the pieces of information that can help them during the further analysis (Fisher & Frey, 2012).

The next strategy, namely the text-dependent questions, is an additional tool in addressing the needs of every type of reader. For example, vocabulary and text structure questions can be helpful to alliterate and struggling readers who cannot see the relationship between explicit and implicit meanings (Fisher & Frey, 2012). At the same time, inferential questions might be more encouraging for avid readers who have the ability to find hidden details in a text due to their previous reading experience.

The questions about the author’s purpose can be interesting to any type of the mentioned readers, but only if the text is explicit enough (but not too much) about its purpose. While struggling readers might try looking for clues in the text, alliterate readers might base their assumptions on previous discussions, and avid readers can suggest their own ideas (however, they should relate to the main text). This approach can be used after students have reread the story (Fisher & Frey, 2012). As the authors’ experience shows, students can have very diverse opinions about the author’s purpose (Fisher & Frey, 2012). Diversity in opinions is good because it proves students’ excitement for the search for a deeper or hidden meaning. This can positively influence the growing interest in reading, even in alliterate students.

Thus, the discussed ideas have the potential to have a positive impact on students if implemented correctly. The text chosen for the class reading should be neither too easy nor too complicated, and not all strategies used in close reading have to be implemented to achieve expected results.


Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2012). Close reading in elementary schools. The Reading Teacher, 66(3), 179-188

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2014). Close reading as an intervention for struggling middle school readers. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 57(5), 367-376.

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Mol, S. E., & Jolles, J. (2014). Reading enjoyment amongst non-leisure readers can affect achievement in secondary school. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(2), 1-10.

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