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Rigorous Reading

Rigorous Reading
5 Access Points for Comprehending Complex Texts

QR Codes with Access to Video Footage, Foreword by P. David Pearson

Additional resources:

September 2013 | 256 pages | Corwin

What it really means to “read closely.”

What could Fern Arable, Jay Gatsby, and Winston Churchill possibly have in common? They all need masterful teachers to help students revel in their complexity. And Nancy Frey and Doug Fisher are just the two mentors to help you make that happen.

Call it close reading, call it deep reading, call it analytic reading—call it what you like. The point is, it’s a level of understanding that students of any age can achieve with the right kind of instruction. In Rigorous Reading, Nancy and Doug articulate an instructional plan so clearly, and so squarely built on research, that teachers, schools, and districts need look no further.

The 5 Access Points Toward Proficiency

  1. Purpose & Modeling: Teachers think aloud to demonstrate critical thinking and how good readers always know why they are reading.
  2. Close & Scaffolded Reading Instruction: Teachers engage students in repeated readings and discussions, with text-dependent questions, prompts, and cues to help students delve into an author’s ideas.
  3. Collaborative Conversations: Teachers orchestrate collaborative learning to get students in the habit of exercising their analytical thinking in the presence of their peers.
  4. An Independent Reading Staircase: Teachers artfully steer students to more challenging books, with strategic bursts of instruction and peer conferences to foster metacognitive awareness.
  5. Performance: Teachers offer feedback and assessments that help students demonstrate understanding of text in authentic ways and plan instruction based on student understanding.

There’s more . . .  Also included are illustrative classroom video clips available via QR codes along with an online Facilitator’s Guide with PowerPoints--making Rigorous Reading the only resource  a  teacher, school, or district needs to seriously stretch students’ capacity to read and comprehend text.

List of Videos
Foreword by P. David Pearson
Introduction: Your Access Point
Chapter 1. Ramping Up for Complex Texts
Reading Complex Texts: Anchor Standard 10

A New Definition of Text Complexity

Reading Closely: Anchor Standard 1

The Importance of Comprehension Strategies Instruction for Accessing Complex Texts

Accessing Complex Texts Through a Gradual Release of Responsibility


Chapter 2. Access Point One: Purpose and Modeling
Accessing Complex Text Requires Modeling

Accessing Complex Text Requires a Clear Purpose


Chapter 3. Access Point Two: Close and Scaffolded Reading Instruction
Accessing Complex Text Requires Close Reading

Accessing Complex Text Requires Scaffolded Reading Instruction


Chapter 4. Access Point Three: Collaborative Conversations
Accessing Complex Texts Requires Collaborative Conversations

Accessing Complex Texts Requires Student-to-Student Interaction


Chapter 5. Access Point Four: An Independent Reading Staircase
Accessing Complex Texts Requires Independent Reading

Accessing Complex Texts Requires Conferring


Chapter 6. Access Point Five: Demonstrating Understanding and Assessing Performance
Accessing Complex Texts Requires More Than Personal Connections

Accessing Complex Texts Requires Students to Do Something After Reading

Accessing Complex Texts Requires Formative Assessments


Professional Learning Guide

"One would think that the first place to look when wanting information about the Common Core State Standards would be, well, the Common Core State Standards.  The fact is, though,  Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey are quickly becoming the go-to folks for information on teaching these standards.  They've proven this again in Rigorous Reading. This is certainly a book to be added to your collection of books that attend to the demands of the CCSS." 

Kylene Beers, Ed.D.

"With Rigorous Reading Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey have provided literacy educators who are committed to successfully raising the bar with solutions that make sense.  The book is masterfully developed with an extensive reach across many grade levels in terms of defining what it means to provide intentional instruction and teaching text complexity.  The five access points are discussed pragmatically with evidence of a solid research base deftly woven throughout the book.  This is the most practical book I have come across in terms of providing teachers with the knowledge base and assistance many are seeking to improve their instruction with regard to complex texts."

Steven L. Layne, Ed.D., Professor of Literacy Education
Judson University, Elgin, IL

"In Rigorous Reading: 5 Access Points for Helping Students Comprehend Complex Texts, Fisher and Frey help teachers understand how to bring vigor to rigor. They teach us how to help students understand more from their complex texts -- greater understanding that will help to bring life and energy to each student's reading. Rooted in solid research, this is book is a must-read for those grappling with how to translate the recommendations and mandates around text complexity from the Common Core into instructional practices."

Jennifer Serravallo author of Teaching Reading in Small Groups and Conferring with Readers

"In a time when nearly every state has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), we need resources that show us how to support students in developing their full literacy potential.  In this very practical and insightful book, Fisher and Frey examine how CCSS conceptions of text complexity are causing us to shift some of our ideas about reading instruction. Rigorous Reading is an important resource that will help teachers align reading instruction with the CCSS in powerful ways."

Linda B. Gambrell, Professor
Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina

“This is a bold book. . . . Its genius, and its unique contribution, is in bringing the balance and the centeredness to this new game in town—the Common Core."

P. David Pearson, Professor of the Graduate School of Education
University of California, Berkeley

The current textbook that we have is still being used for two more years.

Ms Denise Reid
Early Child Elem Middle Dept, Eastern Illinois University
October 19, 2014

Not enough information outside of close reading

Mrs Kelly True
Grad/Continuing Ed/Professional Dev, Framingham State University
August 10, 2014

It supplements my main text very well

Professor Katherine Patterson
Graduate Literacy, St John'S University
February 4, 2014
Key features
Like many excellent teaching methodologies grounded in research (reader response theory, guided reading, etc) the gradual release of responsibility model has been widely implemented, but often poorly. Many teachers lack a deep understanding and models deep for doing this effectively. Fisher & Frey have a gift for breaking down information into explicit, manageable steps, with clear examples that will inform teachers' own implementation.

Chapters will focus on GRR as it specifically plays out in ELA in the 6-12 classroom.

  • Chapter 1: Will introduce the model and explain why it is essential to deep, transferable learning
  • Chapter 2: What are the ingredients of a focused lesson? Establishing purpose & modeling
  • Chapter 3: What does guided instruction look like? Cues, prompts, and questions
  • Chapter 4: Collaborative Learning: The importance of Consolidating Thinking with Peers
  • Chapter 5: Beyond "Do it yourself:" Independent Learning tasks for Students
  • Chapter 6: How to Implement a GRR Model

Purchasing options

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ISBN: 9781452268132
CAD$ 54.95

For large school/district orders, volume discounts, availability and shipping times contact customer service at 800-233-9936

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Audio Book Ad Rigorous Reading