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Close reading experiences (CREs)
Close reading experiences (CREs)

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

Karthik Chandrasekariah avatar
Written by Karthik Chandrasekariah
Updated over a week ago

Close Reading Experience Primer

Zinc introduces students to close reading experiences (CREs) through a series of short, interactive video lessons led by student teachers on the following skills:

  • 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.

  • 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 a key aid to comprehension.

  • 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.

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

Students put these skills to work in a series of video-guided games. Students read and interact with engaging short excerpts—one to two paragraphs—from commonly taught fiction and compelling nonfiction texts, such as Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God or 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.

Getting Started

To better familiarize with the exercises, recommend that you review the content on this page and preview the skills lesson.

On what devices is the Close Reading Experience supported?

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

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

  • Chromebooks | Latest Chrome Browsers

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

What will my students see when they open Close Readings?

The Close Reading Experience will be accessible to students under the new ‘Skills’ tab in the Zinc Header.  

On students’ first visit to the new Skills page, they will be met with a message which prompts them to complete the foundational Close Reading Skills Lesson about Romeo and Juliet.  

You can encourage your students to complete the lesson independently or arrange class time to work on the lesson en masse.  The Skills Lesson may take students between 15-20 minutes to complete.

Will students be able to select and play the exercises independently?

No.  Though students will be able to browse available content, they will only be able to engage with the close reading exercises that are assigned by a Teacher.

What grades/levels are these tools appropriate for?

We routinely publish close reading exercises that will vary in difficulty - both in terms of the selected reading material and intensity of the simulations.  We endeavor to offer content that is appropriate for both middle and high school grades 6-12.  

Is there a report to track my students' performance on CREs?

Yes! You can find CRE reports by going to your Assignments tab. Find the row associated with the CRE you assigned, and click "View Report" on the righthand side. 

Will students be able to play the CREs multiple times?


My school has limited internet bandwidth - what happens if my class experiences difficulty with video playback on the app?

We’ve built an accommodation which will allow students to disable the video component if video playback proves difficult for a significant number of students or classes.  The video disable feature is not enabled by default, but, can be activated for any class or school by request.

What are some common bugs/issues and how do I get around them?

  • On the highlight exercises, some partially correct answers are being interpreted as incorrect.  For now, please offer your students encouragement that their responses are indeed valid.  We're working to make the app better at acknowledging variations of responses that are, pedagogically, acceptable.

  • On less current browser versions of Safari and Chrome, the app does not perform well (i.e. videos don't load smoothly or the simulation gets stuck altogether).  We recommend using the app on the most current versions of Chrome and Safari while the app is optimized for older browser versions.

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