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LITERACY ENGAGEMENT CHARTS: A Look At Creating Close Reading Experiences For ALL Readers

Updated: Jul 6, 2022

Do you want your readers to understand how readers build comprehension?

Do you want your readers to revisit a text to strengthen comprehension and make interpretations?

Do you want to build a collection of books to return to throughout the school year during future minilessons?

This shared literacy experience will build a bridge between the literal and inferential understandings about text for your readers. The concept of reading words and comprehending those same words can be a daunting task for readers of all ages.

Think about the last book that you read and how many times you had to go back and reread or look a word up because it was too complex for you—a proficient reader.

Reading and comprehension is an ongoing process because we, as readers, access texts that are more complex as we grow in our reading lives. If we didn’t, we would still be reading Dr. Seuss and Eve Bunting and the Nancy Drew Mystery series…

As proficient readers we understand the importance of revisiting a text for multiple purposes to build layers of meaning.

We revisit text to reread and clear up any confusions.
We revisit text to fill in any gaps in understanding and answer any questions we still have about the text.
We revisit text to dig deeper and build meaning beyond the surface.
We revisit text to support our interpretations.
Sometimes we revisit text because we just liked it so darned much the first time.

As a reader’s proficiency level increases, all of these reading processes and strategies become automatic and happen simultaneously.

As readers are developing, they need to see how each of the processes and strategies work together and contribute to overall comprehension.

Why should I use Literacy Engagement Charts?

For readers, particularly those still learning to decode text, comprehension is a complex task. We must build experiences for readers to think independently but demonstrate reading expectations through shared experiences, also.

Literacy Engagement charts help build the bridge from active read aloud with accountable talk to successful strategy use during independent reading.

Literacy Engagement Charts take readers one step beyond Read Aloud because readers work WITH the proficient reader in the classroom to build comprehension.

Using a Literacy Engagement Chart is a way to frontload skills and strategies that you will be addressing in future minilessons for your readers to take into independent reading.

Gradual Release of Responsibility

As you dive into using Literacy Engagement charts across a school year, you will see that this tool is flexible, intentional and purposeful.

The gradual release of responsibility will become evident across the school year as you observe your students during this Literacy Engagement process.

In the beginning of the school year, you will be the proficient reader modeling strategy use and making it visible for all students on the chart.

As the year progresses, you will find that your readers will be contributing more to creating the chart as their thinking about texts evolves and grows.

As the year draws to a close, you may have students creating their own individual charts as you read a book, revisit and share the text together.

The Literacy Engagement Chart is a process in which readers can see how layers of meaning are built to create a deeper and strengthened understanding of a text.

Who does the Literacy Engagement Chart work?

Through shared literacy engagement experiences readers are guided by a proficient reader to build and create meaning. Student readers get to observe and work WITH the proficient reader to build comprehension.

✅ It’s low risk and high engagement!

✅ It’s intentional and purposeful!

The teacher reads the text and intentionally nudges the readers toward skill or strategy work that he/she has found is a need for the readers in the classroom.

Readers are guided to revisit sections of the text to approach and practice applying those skills and strategies.

The proficient reader (the teacher) and the readers work TOGETHER to create meaning and build comprehension of the text being used.

When do I use Literacy Engagement Charts?

Using Literacy Engagement Charts are not meant as an ‘every week’ learning experience.

Literacy Engagement Charts should become part of your literacy instruction once every 4-6 weeks. This will give your readers time to soak up the work you create together and begin approximating and transferring those skills and strategies into their own independent reading work.

The skills and strategies used on the Literacy Engagement Chart could become part of the minilessons that you will conduct with your readers.

Where do Literacy Engagement Charts fit?

Using a Literacy Engagement Chart is a shared experience. So, if you have a part of your literacy block reserved each day for Shared Reading or Close Reading, this would be the perfect time.

If you do not have a part of your literacy block already dedicated to shared experiences, then it would be a good practice to carve out 4-5 days in one week with 15-30 minutes each day to dedicate towards building a Literacy Engagement Chart.

What is a Literacy Engagement Chart?

When literacy engagement sessions are implemented as a shared experience, students are provided opportunities to observe strategy use, as well as, engage in strategy use under the close guidance of the teacher.

Literacy Engagement Charts are a process in which teacher and students share literacy experiences and perform strategy work to cocreate and build meaning together about a text.

Literacy Engagement experiences engage students in building comprehension of a text which leads to developing interpretations of the text through repeated readings over the course of a week.

Literacy Engagement Charts are typically built across one week.

Each day brings students back to revisit the shared text for information needed to comprehend, draw conclusions, make interpretations or whatever is necessary to bring meaning to the text. Revisiting the text may mean a rereading of the full text or a visit to a section (or sections) of the text needed for the strategy and skill being used.

Each chart section and multiple text revisits will help your readers see how layers of meaning are developed through the use of strategy work to build comprehension.

You may want to take a look at this Literacy Engagement Planning Cheat Sheet in the Literacy Treasure FREE Resource Library….

What texts should I use?

The type of text to use for a Literacy Engagement Chart is a short text such as a picture book, short stories, short nonfiction texts or articles.

What does a Literacy Engagement Chart look like?

The creation of a Literacy Engagement chart about a text makes reading thinking visible.

Literacy Engagement Charts can be created for shared fiction texts and shared nonfiction texts.

Literacy Engagement charts have 4-5 sections. Each day’s reading and rereading has a particular focus, and the section is built around that focus.

The text revisit may be a complete rereading of the full text or a visit to a particular section or sections of the text.

2 sections EVERY Literacy Engagement chart should include:

  • Observations/Noticings Before and During Reading. This is that first text visit that gets your readers familiar with the text.

  • Author’s Message and/or Theme (fiction) or Text Structure (nonfiction) and why the author chose the structure. This is the last text visit that culminates all the week’s work into final conclusions and interpretations about the text.

The other 2-3 sections on the Literacy Engagement Chart should have a focus:

  • based on specific classroom needs that are intentional and purposeful for your group of readers. These text revisits will help your readers see how layers of meaning are developed through the use of strategy work to build comprehension.

As readers progress towards proficiency, reading strategies and skills become automatic.

Using Literacy Engagement Charts creates experiences for readers to SEE how each of the processes and strategies work together to contribute to the overall comprehension of a text.

Take a look at the Literacy Engagement Chart Planning Cheat Sheet and these other valuable resources…

Until next time...



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