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Rigorous Reading

5 Access Points for Comprehending Complex Texts
By: Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher

Foreword by P. David Pearson

Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher articulate an instructional plan for close reading so clearly, and so squarely built on research, that it’s the only resource a teacher will need.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781452268132
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Corwin Literacy
  • Year: 2013
  • Page Count: 256
  • Publication date: September 13, 2013

Price: $39.95



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.

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


Nancy Frey photo

Nancy Frey

Nancy Frey, Ph.D., is a Professor in Educational Leadership at San Diego State and a teacher leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. She is a member of the International Literacy Association’s Literacy Research Panel. Her published titles include Visible Learning in Literacy, This Is Balanced Literacy, Removing Labels, and Rebound. Nancy is a credentialed special educator, reading specialist, and administrator in California and learns from teachers and students every day.
Douglas Fisher photo

Douglas Fisher

Douglas Fisher, Ph.D., is professor and chair of educational leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. Previously, Doug was an early intervention teacher and elementary school educator. He is the recipient of an International Reading Association William S. Grey citation of merit and an Exemplary Leader award from the Conference on English Leadership of NCTE. He has published numerous articles on teaching and learning as well as books such as The Teacher Clarity Playbook, PLC+, Visible Learning for Literacy, Comprehension: The Skill, Will, and Thrill of Reading, How Tutoring Works, and How Learning Works. Doug loves being an educator and hopes to share that passion with others.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

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



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