Friday, September 30, 2016

Close Reading with Shakira


My class population consists of 10 Spanish Learners and 20 English Learners.  We are a 50:50 Dual Immersion class which means we value the 21st Century skill of biliteracy.   Whatever level I teach in English, I teach the same level in Spanish, although I will scaffold as necessary to ensure everyone learns and grows.

So the objective today was to have the students Close Read a song, working on the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard of interpreting and analyzing how word choices shape meaning.  Basically, we were looking at how the author of the song used clear images from word choice to give the central idea.  This lesson was done in Spanish.

So to begin with I found a super fun, current Spanish song with a good message.  It is called "La bicicleta" and its written by Shakira and Carlos Vives.    I played the song and had the students read the lyrics as they listened.  They were shocked and giddy that they got to listen to music for a lesson.  A huge qualification of a Close Reading lesson is that it has to be fun!   La bicicleta song and lyrics

So after reading (and listening to) the song for fluency I had the students annotate.  They took a pencil and reread the lyrics during which they circled the key words and phrases and underlined important ideas.  Then they interacted with the text by writing down questions and comments that the text prompted.   This is the basic first step of any Close Read activity.  The difference is, it is done with a fun song!  After this dual immersion class annotated and analyzed the text, I instructed them to write down what they thought was the central idea of the song.  I told them to not worry about being right, but interpret the song the best they could with the information they had.  Below is an example.   #1 is the student's initial analysis of the central idea.  

Next I told students to reread the text (Close Reading involves multiple readings of the same text), and create a list of all the words that created a clear image in their heads.  I modeled a short list of my own words, and then gave them 10 minutes to create their own list.  Then I told them to buddy up with their neighbor (who is strategically placed beside them to either help or receive help in the second language), and share their lists.  I wanted them to negotiate the clarity of the word choices and create one working list to share among both students.  This discussion is so valuable, especially among second language learners.  After the lists were made, I showed them my list.  I explained that my list was my interpretation of the song and no better or worse than their lists, just different.  Below is my list.  
  Next we find patterns, and we will use them to further analyze the central idea.  I explain patterns using three colored markers.  I model how I group "hurt, heart, beating for you, and happy" together.  I ask students to think, pair, share what they think a good title for this category would be.  Then I tell them that I will choose "emotions" and I think aloud my reasoning.  I then tell them to figure out their pattern and title and use a colored pencil to identify the categories.  I do the same with the rest of the word choice list until I get the titles "emotions, an easy life, childhood".   I then encourage them to analyze and revise their central idea of the song and label it #2, as seen above on the student work.   AFterwards I show them my revision and explain the rationale behind it through a think aloud.  I also re-explain that all interpretations are good.  Any problems I will address in a future lesson, not now.  Here is my interpretation using the word choice and patterns to analyze the central idea.  "The author wants to return to the era of her childhood when life was easier." 
The students LOVED this Close Reading activity!  It was different and relevant and adding the element of music and poetry increased engagement by leaps and bounds!  Differentiation was evident in that the strong Spanish speakers really analyzed the word choice profoundly, and the struggling Spanish learner found enjoyment and success in finding known words and being able to pattern them together in categories.  Below are some examples of student work. 


By the way,  I got this Close Reading variation from a fantastic conference I went to titled, "Falling in Love with Close Reading" by Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts.

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