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Close Reading: Are Educators Behind the Curve?

Those of you who were interested in the close-reading exercise that I reported on last week might want to read what Understanding-By-Design guru Grant Wiggins has to say about it in his blog.

A quick refresher: chief academic officers from 14 big school districts walked through a lesson on close reading at an Aspen Institute retreat in Florida. It's a very different way of teaching than most teachers are used to, and the CAOs had both admiration for and concern about implementing the technique in their districts. Read my story about it here.

Wiggins argues that close reading is hardly new, and expresses amazement that more instructional leaders don't know about it. (Some of the comments posted to my story include echoes of Wiggins' point, as well.)

The fact that this technique has been used in private schools, and in public schools with the Junior Great Books program, is notable. But flip that over and see where you end up: the fact that it isn't more widely used—especially in places where students are most in need of terrific instruction, and rich experiences with language—is perhaps what is really worth noting. And the breadth of the challenge involved in doing so across such a varied landscape isn't insignificant, either. What happens now is the question.

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