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Close Reading Experiences (CREs)
Close Reading Experiences (CREs)

Learn more about Zinc CREs, including highlighted skills and answers to frequently asked questions

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Close Reading Experiences (CREs) are Zinc’s self-contained, interactive video lessons. They are easy to assign and have enough variety to keep your students engaged. Students can explore CREs on their own, and each lesson can be repeated. If you'd like your students to complete auto-leveled CREs on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, you can include them in a Lift Off assignment. These flexible lessons are designed to fit your schedule and classroom needs.

Students are coached through the following skills by our friendly video guides:

  • Zinc-ing: This is Zinc’s term for training students to understand texts by turning words and phrases into images in their minds. Picturing authors’ words serves as an essential aid to comprehension.

  • Tracking: This is Zinc’s name for discussing the three key skills of identifying transition words and punctuation, understanding pronouns and their antecedents, and finding key words and phrases that explain ideas as they unfold in a text.

  • Tone: Zinc teaches students how to identify an author’s tone in a text and pays special attention to the tricky skill of understanding irony.

  • Making Predictions: Before answer choices are revealed, students are often asked to type a prediction in their own words. This discourages quick guesses and encourages critical thinking.

  • Main Point: All CREs ask students to first predict the main point. After exploring the passage with the presenter, they return to their prediction and answer a multiple-choice main point question.

  • Additional Skills: Over time, students are also introduced to powerful concepts like Arguments, Structure, Inference, and Words in Context.

Students put these skills to work in a series of video-guided games. Students read and interact with engaging short excerpts of one to two paragraphs. CREs focus on commonly taught fiction and compelling nonfiction texts like Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Malala Yousafzai's "Speech to the U.N. General Assembly."

Through repeated practice identifying and using close reading skills with diverse texts, Zinc seeks to empower students to read with confidence and clarity. Our CREs are the bridge to successfully tackling full-length articles and novels.

Our video guides will ask students to make predictions, answer thoughtful multiple choice and open-ended questions, and interact directly with the text. This gamification is designed to keep students engaged as they learn valuable skills.

Want to try a Close Reading Experience yourself? Once you're signed into your Zinc account and gone to the Close Reading Experience page, you can try any CRE that you like! Simply click on the option to "Play Lesson as a Student" or "Preview Game" under the activities. This is the easiest way to see how CREs will help your students succeed.

Assigning Close Reading Experiences

You can quickly assign a Close Reading Experience to an entire class or to individual students. If you would like to assign ongoing, weekly CREs, you may do so in Lift Off.

To reach the Close Reading Experiences page, click "Assign Activities" in the top menu of the Zinc homepage and then click "Close Reading Experiences."

The Close Reading Experiences page lists all of these lessons in one place. You may use the search box to find a specific CRE, or you can click on the dropdown menus to sort for the right selection of activities. You can sort by Zinc Level, reading time, or reading skill. Each CRE will reinforce a variety of valuable reading skills.

The first CREs on the page are "Introduction to Zinc-ing" and "Introduction to Tracking." We highly encourage students and teachers start with these activities before exploring the rest of our texts. They only take about 5 minutes to complete. The bite-sized mini-exercises help you and your students get the most out of your CREs!

You may try out any CRE from this page. Simply click "Play Lesson as a Student" or "Preview Game" to get the full student experience. You can also click "View" to see the full text that will be covered.

If you click the green "View" button, you'll see the full text of the passage. You can also see the approximate time it takes to complete each CRE!



Once you've found the correct CRE, consider bookmarking it by clicking the yellow bookmark icon in the top right-hand corner of each CRE's box.

When you click "Assign," a box will pop up with your options. You can see what this box looks like below:

If you select the option to assign to an entire class, you'll be able to select the class from a dropdown menu of your active classes. If you click the option to assign to students, you will need to begin typing each student's name. You may assign to multiple classes or multiple individual students at the same time.

You may type an optional note for each assignment, which will be delivered to the students. You can include details like when the assignment is due. You may also select an option to let students know whether you expect the work to be done at home or in class. Then you just need to click "Assign Close Reading Experience" to send the assignment!

Please note that if the system says a student cannot receive the assignment, they must already have an active version of that assignment. Have them complete the old assignment or cancel it on your Assignments page. Once that assignment is no longer active, you can reassign it to the student.

Test Preparation CREs

Looking for powerful test prep activities? If you type "test prep" into the search bar on the CRE page, you'll see our current offering of leveled CREs specifically designed to coach students through Zinc's three-step approach to answering multiple choice reading questions. Here's a direct link to our list of Test Prep CREs.

Each passage asks students a main idea question and walks them through how 1) Making a Prediction, 2) giving each answer a preliminary Yes/No/Maybe, and 3) seeing how Every Word Matters to rule out answer choices that SOUND right, but are wrong.

These Test Prep CREs are an excellent way to reinforce your class instruction. For pre-made Zinc Lesson Plans for Test Prep, check out the bottom of our Teacher Resources page!


Close Reading Experience Reports

To track student progress on their Close Reading Experiences or to view their results, you have several options. You may click on the assignment on your Zinc homepage or on the Assignments page. We strongly recommend using the Reports page, because it keeps all of the information in one place and makes it easy to find.

For more information on how to view reports covering Close Reading experiences, please check out these sections on Comprehensive Class Reports and individual Student Performance Reports.

Supported Devices

  • Mac | OS 10+ | Latest Safari (11.0+), Chrome and Firefox Browsers

  • Windows | OS 7+ | Latest Chrome, Firefox and Edge Browsers

  • Chromebooks | Latest Chrome Browsers

While Zinc should work on most browsers, we recommend using the app on the most recent versions of Chrome and Safari.

CREs are not supported on iOS or Android devices at present. As we optimize the app for a tablet experience, we will update our support list.

How do Students Access Close Reading Experiences Assignments?

When you assign a Close Reading Experience (CRE), it will appear on your students' Zinc Dashboard or homepage under "Recent Active Assignments." Students should click on the "Start Assignment" link on the right side of the screen.

If you're exploring on your own and it's your first time doing a Close Reading Experience, we recommend completing the introductory mini-CREs. These can be reached by clicking the green buttons that say ""Start Zinc-ing Lesson" or "Start Tracking Lesson" on the Close Reading Experience page.

Can Students Play CREs Independently?

Yes! Students may check out any Close Reading Experiences by clicking on "Explore Activities" in the top Zinc menu and then clicking on "Close Reading Experiences." We still recommend that students start with "Introduction to Zinc-ing" and "Introduction to Tracking," which they'll see at the top of their own CRE page.

Students may complete all the Close Reading Experiences as often as they like. This makes CREs an excellent resource if a student finishes other assignments early or if you need to fill a small amount of class time with quality, ready-made content. Just ask your students to log into Zinc, click on "Explore Activities" and then "Close Reading Experiences," and they can explore Close Reading Experience on their own terms.

Can Students Play a CRE More Than Once?

Yes! You may assign any CRE as many times as you like, and students may even complete them on their own. Please note, past assignments of a specific CRE must be completed or canceled before a new assignment of the same CRE can be made.

Disabling the Video

We understand there may be a need to disable the videos in Close Reading Experience. To temporarily turn off the videos in a CRE, a student needs to click on the small camera icon above the video.

Ready to Jump into Close Reading Experiences?

You should now be more than ready to share Close Reading Experiences with your students! Once you're signed into Zinc, head on over the Close Reading Experience page and start assigning these helpful activities. Remember, you can try out any CRE by just clicking "Preview Game!"

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