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Lessons and Units for Closer Reading, Grades 3-6

Lessons and Units for Closer Reading, Grades 3-6
Ready-to-Go Resources and Planning Tools Galore

Foreword by Tanny McGregor

Additional resources:

March 2015 | 336 pages | Corwin

Every teacher who is struggling to make close reading a cohesive and coherent part of the curriculum, take notice: relief is in sight, thanks to Nancy Boyles’ Lessons and Units for Closer Reading


Here, Nancy redefines what it means to publish on demand with a resource that answers your most urgent questions around how to implement close reading within the literacy block. What’s more, she delivers all the goods: eight three-week units on close reading to immediately drop in to the curriculum and achieve that so-essential connectedness and coherence.


Want a year-long curriculum? You’ve got it. There are 32 lessons in all, based on readily available complex picture books and organized by eight learning pathways for approaching important themes in literature and information. You can get started right away, with the help of:

  • Short nonfiction articles to kick off each unit and get kids’ minds percolating
  • Assessment tasks, rubrics, planning templates, booklists, and more to make close reading instruction easy, efficient, and effective
  • Links to 20+ video segments showing close reading and follow-up lessons in action
  • Page-by-page text-dependent questions for every picture book
  • Student work providing exemplars for writing about reading
  • 10 Planning Steps for developing new units of study


Nancy Boyle’s Closer Reading expertly delivered answers to the why and how of close reading.  Now, with this phenomenal sequel, you’re treated to her playbook. This is the one that will sit in your lap while you teach, each and every day.

Check out MiddleWeb's review of Lessons and Units for Closer Reading here.


Foreword by Tanny McGregor
A Guide to Using the Lessons and Units
Chart: Learning Pathways, Units, and Anchor Texts

Teaching for Coherence: Why Moving From Stand-Alone Lessons to Units of Study Matters

Picture Books as Mentor Texts

The Secret Weapon of This Book’s Units: Learning Pathways

Chart: Teaching Units According to Learning Pathways

How Coherence Leads to Critical Thinking

Seven Criteria for Critical Thinking

The Ten Planning Steps for Each Unit: Tips for Success

Chart: A Visual Tour of the Units

Step 1. Identify Your Learning Pathway, Unit Focus, and Inquiry Question
Step 2. Select and Sequence Your Books
Chart: Quick Survey of Text Complexity

Chart: Choosing Powerful Picture Books

Step 3. Determine Your Reading Focus Standard for the Unit
Chart: Determining a Unit’s Focus Standard

Step 4. Plan for Units of Approximately Five Weeks Using a Unit Curriculum Map
Chart: Unit Curriculum Map for Studying ____

Step 5. Launch Your Unit With a Unit Preview and a Kickoff Lesson Based on the Nonfiction Article Provided
Chart: Unit Preview Questions and Discussion Points

Chart: Questions to Link an Introductory Short Text to a Unit of Study

Step 6. Study One Picture Book Per Week, Beginning With an Initial Close Reading Lesson Where You Discuss The Entire Book
Chart: Close Reading Lesson Components, Links to Video, and Hot Tips for Close Reading Success

Step 7. Revisit the Text for Follow-Up Standards-Based Skill or Strategy Lessons
Template: Follow-Up Skill or Strategy Lesson

Exemplar Lesson: Follow-Up Lesson for The Raft

Exemplar Graphic Organizer: Describe a Character or Person

Step 8. Link the Books to One Another Through Discussion and Written Response
Chart: Discussion Questions for Text-to-Text Connections

Step 9. Administer Two Assessment Tasks at the End of Each Unit (Content-Based and Standards-Based)
Distinguishing Between the Content-Based and Standards-Based Assessments

Chart: Rubric for Content-Based Assessment (Task 1) and Standards-Based Assessment (Task 2)

Chart: Interpretation of Rubric Data

Chart: Rubric for Measuring Students’ Critical Thinking: Talking and Writing About Sources

Step 10. Analyze Student Work
Template: Reflecting on Reading Responses for Individual Students

Template: Reflecting on Class Performance for a Close Reading Follow-Up Task

Reflection Questions for the Ten Steps of Unit Planning and Teaching
The Units and Lessons
How to Study a Concept: What Makes Someone a Good Leader?
Introduction to the Unit

Unit Curriculum Map for Close Reading

Short Informational Text: To Be a Leader

Close Reading Lessons for Weslandia

Close Reading Lessons for Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson

Close Reading Lessons for Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic

Close Reading Lessons for Nelson Mandela

How to Study a Person: Who Was Abraham Lincoln: Boy, Husband, Father, President?
Introduction to the Unit

Unit Curriculum Map for Close Reading

Short Informational Text: Selected Quotes by Abraham Lincoln

Close Reading Lessons for Honest Abe

Close Reading Lessons for Looking at Lincoln

Close Reading Lessons for Abraham Lincoln Comes Home

Close Reading Lessons for Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln

How to Study a Topic: How Do You Prefer to See the Moon—As an Astronomer, an Astronaut, a Native American, or a Storyteller?
Introduction to the Unit

Unit Curriculum Map for Close Reading

Short Informational Text: Reflections on the Moon and Astronomy

Close Reading Lessons for Faces of the Moon

Close Reading Lessons for Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back

Close Reading Lessons for Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

Close Reading Lessons for The Man in the Moon

How to Study a Genre: How Many Ways Can You Tell a Fairy Tale?
Introduction to the Unit

Unit Curriculum Map for Close Reading

Short Informational Text: Why We Need Fairytales

Close Reading Lessons for The Princess and the Pizza

Close Reading Lessons for The Cowboy and the Black-Eyed Pea

Close Reading Lessons for Extra! Extra!: Fairy-Tale News From Hidden Forest

Close Reading Lessons for Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude

How to Study an Author: How Does Robert Burleigh Write Such Interesting Informational Books?
Introduction to the Unit

Unit Curriculum Map for Close Reading

Short Informational Text: Robert Burleigh Talks About His Writing

Close Reading Lessons for Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth

Close Reading Lessons for Flight: The Journey of Charles Lindbergh

Close Reading Lessons for Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer

Close Reading Lessons for Tiger of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest

How to Study a Time in History: What Choices Would You Make if You Were a Slave Child?
Introduction to the Unit

Unit Curriculum Map for Close Reading

Short Informational Text: Slave Holder’s Diary

Close Reading Lessons for Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman

Close Reading Lessons for Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride

Close Reading Lessons for Now Let Me Fly: The True Story of a Slave Family

Close Reading Lessons for Up the Learning Tree

How to Study a Theme: What Makes Home So Special?
Introduction to the Unit

Unit Curriculum Map for Close Reading

Short Informational Text: My Home

Close Reading Lessons for Let’s Go Home: The Wonderful Things About a House

Close Reading Lessons for Going Home

Close Reading Lessons for A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water Across the World

Close Reading Lessons for On This Spot: An Expedition Back Through Time

How to Study a Current Issue: What’s the Big Deal About Clean Water?
Introduction to the Unit

Unit Curriculum Map for Close Reading

Short Informational Text: Water, Water Everywhere, but Not a Drop to (Safely) Drink

Close Reading Lessons for A River Ran Wild

Close Reading Lessons for A Life Like Mine (excerpt)

Close Reading Lessons for One Well: The Story of Water on Earth (excerpt)

Close Reading Lessons for The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The End of the Story: Reflecting on Student Work
From New Haven, Connecticut

From Belfast, Maine

From Naugatuck, Connecticut

More From Naugatuck, Connecticut

From Meriden, Connecticut

From Greenland, New Hampshire

From North Haven, Connecticut

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Reflecting on Trends

Exemplars: Reflecting on Class Performance for a Close Reading Follow-Up Task


“Lessons and Units for Closer Reading reassures teachers like me to the same degree that it instructs. It is no accident that Nancy uses words like coherence, connections, and synergy in her opening pages. Through her unit and lesson design, she brings that coherence to us in incremental, practical ways—ways that new and experienced teachers can easily absorb into their teaching practices. Nancy is giving us what we want: specific lesson ideas based on a solid framework that uses children’s literature, but it is actually what we need, too.”

TANNY MCGREGOR, Education Consultant and Author of Comprehension Connections

“In her new book, Lessons and Units for Closer Reading, Nancy Boyles offers teachers what they ask for and need the most—practical, useable strategies and examples in the form of actual close reading lessons—32 to be exact—along with 23 videos accessible through QR codes that show how to implement these close reading lessons and related strategies. What a treasure trove of modeling and guidance for teachers! As a former elementary educator myself, how I wish I had had this powerful resource to help me become a better teacher of reading.”

LARRY AINSWORTH, Education Consultant and Coauthor of Common Formative Assessments 2.0

“The Common Core Standards call for students to be able to read texts closely to make meaning and for students to build knowledge systematically (CCSS for ELA, p. 33, 2010). This book provides a vivid picture of instruction that supports this kind of learning. Boyles’ text speaks to the teacher who has been grappling with how to develop units and strategically integrate close reading lessons, providing clarity and inspiration. This is a must-have text for educators and will remain a go-to resource in my professional library for many years to come.”

SUNDAY CUMMINS, Ph.D., Literacy Consultant and Author of Close Reading of Informational Texts

“Now you understand what close reading is, but you need the nitty-gritty. Presto, Nancy Boyles delivers eight stellar units of study. Her lessons are practical, the text-dependent questions for all those marvelous picture books save you a few weeks of arduous planning. But what I admire most of all? The gallery of student work she’s gathered, with her commentary about strengths, needs, next steps. It’s a rare window into another practitioner’s thinking about what constitutes higher-level reading and writing work. Everybody’s talking about it, but no one has done such a good job showing it until now.”

LESLIE BLAUMAN, Teacher, Education Consultant, and Author of The Common Core Companion: Booster Lessons, Grades 3-5

“Everywhere you turn, headlines call for students to read with depth and rigor. But few teachers get the support they need to bring this about for 25+ students each and every school day. Nancy Boyles’ new book gives them that ‘how-to,’ and it’s remarkable. She provides seven units of study [plus] a valuable planning guide that shows them how to design their own units with a depth that motivates and engages students. Once teachers ace the planning process, the day-to-day implementation of the units becomes easier. I predict that this book will become teachers’ favorite resource for unit design.”

LAURA ROBB, Education Consultant and Author of Vocabulary Is Comprehension

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781483375670