One of the key shifts in English Language Arts classrooms is the move for students to engage routinely with complex text. To prepare students for the demands after high school, state standards across the United States all contain language that requires students to be able to read and comprehend texts at increasingly complex levels (NGA Center and CCSSO). In their effort to provide students the skills necessary to navigate these texts, close reading is a strategy ELA teachers employ in their classrooms. According to Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey, “Close reading is an instructional routine in which students are guided in their understanding of complex texts” (1). The routine includes multiple readings of the text or part of the text, annotation of the text, and text-dependent writing and/or discussion prompts aimed at deepening students’ comprehension of the text.  


The close reading routine asks students to read a text, or part of a text, multiple times, digging deeper each time. The chart below details the close reading process for students. 

Infographic showing three arrows and boxes, moving from left to right. The first box heading, colored blue, reads "First Read: Key Ideas & Details." The body text in the first box reads "Students discover what the text says by applying comprehension skills such as making predictions, connecting to ideas and personal experiences, making inferences, evaluating details, and monitoring comprehension. The second box heading, colored light green, reads “Second Read: Craft and Structure.” The body text in the third box reads, “students explore how the author uses text structures, literary elements, figurative language, and literary devices to create meaning.” The third box heading, colored a darker green, reads “Third Read: Integrate Knowledge & Ideas.” The body text in the third box reads, “Students explain why one or more texts convey a specific meaning, supporting their ideas with analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of ideas and evidence.”

The close reading routine can look daunting to both teachers and students. In fact, when I worked with my students, and later, when I coached teachers around the close reading strategy, I often encountered push back around the repeat readings. And while there is a wealth of research that suggests close reading improves reading comprehension by providing a structure with which to critically read complex texts, some students, and teachers alike, struggle with reading fatigue. So, what do we do? 


The key here is to remember that multiple readings does not mean students must read independently every time. When first introducing younger students to the close reading strategy, teachers often read aloud. Subsequent readings of a text may be read together in a small group or pairs as students collaboratively discuss the text. However, we must remember that older students also benefit from listening to texts read aloud. According to the Center for Teaching, when listening to a text, “…students benefit from hearing complete ideas, expressed with originality and attention, such as one finds in literary language.” One easy way to provide these benefits is to incorporate the use of Immersive Reader into the close reading routine. 


Immersive Reader is a technological tool that allows students, among other things, to listen to a text read to them. Directing students to use Immersive Reader during the first read is a way to break up the monotony students may feel when asked to read a text multiple times. Furthermore, allowing students to listen to a text the first time they encounter it may have additional benefits. Fisher and Frey note that “decades of research…confirm that listening comprehension outpaces reading comprehension from early childhood through at least middle school.” In other words, a student’s comprehension level can often exceed her reading level. Listening to the text, then, provides further opportunity for comprehension while students dig into the written text.  


See why Immersive Reader is a game-changer for your classroom in this demo and learn more about our approach to differentiated learning here!


Fisher, Douglas, and Nancy Frey. “Speaking and Listening in Content Area Learning.” Reading Rockets, WETA, 16 July 2020,  

Fisher, Douglas, et al. Text-Dependent Questions, Grades 6-12: Pathways to Close and Critical Reading, Corwin, Thousand Oaks, CA, CA, 2015.  

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, and Council of Chief State School Officers. “Key Shifts in English Language Arts.” Common Core State Standards Initiative, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010,  


Stephanie Nugent taught high school English for 11 years in both Colorado and Iowa before serving an addition five years as a member of a high school administrative team. Despite moving out of the school system to work with Perfection Learning, Nugent still considers herself a passionate educator who believes that education is a human right and is necessary for social justice to prevail. Nugent graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a B.A. in English Education (2003), Drake University with a M.S. in Educational Leadership (2011), and Concordia University-Portland with a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (2014).