The Three Levels of Reading

The Three Levels of
Essential Question: How do we use close
reading strategies to discover multiple
layers of meaning in our reading? What do
we notice when we do?
Students find meaning directly in the text. As
you read, you mentally answer the questions
who, what, when, and where.
First Layer
Readers draw inferences from what is in the
You also analyze what you read by: interpreting,
classifying, comparing, contrasting, and finding
Second Layer
You will move beyond the text to connect to
universal meaning. As you read, you relate
the messages of the text to events in your
world and your life.
Third Layer
Three Concentric
Instructions for Creating
Concentric Circles Graphic
Across the top of the paper, write the title of the work
and the author’s name.
Draw three large concentric circles on the paper (one
circle inside another circle inside a larger circle).
First Level of Reading
For the innermost circle, concentrate on the concrete level of
meaning— reading on the line.
a. Write the most significant word from the part of the work
b. Partner 1: Quote the entire sentence in which the word
appears—or enough of the sentence to reveal the word’s
use in context. Document the source of the quotation in
c. Partner 1: Write multiple dictionary definitions of the
word (denotation).
d. Partner 2: Explain why the word is important to the
meaning of the work by placing it in the context of the
narrative. (Explain what is literally happening in the text
Second Level of Reading
In the middle circle, concentrate on the abstract level of
meaning—reading between the lines.
a. Draw four images that relate to the assigned part of
the reading.
b. Write an explanation of the link between each image
and the word you have written in the innermost
c. Split this work evenly!
Third Level of Reading
In the outer circle, concentrate on the thematic level of
meaning—reading beyond the lines.
Each person writes one thematic statement drawn from
the significant word written in the innermost circle and
the images drawn in the middle circle. These should be
universal thematic statements and should not refer
directly to the text.

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