Question: What is highly interesting to elementary kids, but highly feared by teachers because of the rigor and many moving parts??
Answer: Nonfiction Texts, of course!
Almost every child in my third grade class has a favorite nonfiction topic in which he/she is an expert. They have read about the topic, watched videos on it and would love to talk to you for hours about it... if you let them!
Teachers understand the challenge of reading nonfiction texts - the domain-specific vocabulary, the text features, and that pesky main idea concept. But if you can capitalize on a child's interest and break down the parts into small instructional bites, nonfiction texts can be a powerful addition to your reading program.
Here are some nonfiction strategies and ideas that I have used in my classroom:
Traffic Light Reading -the use of Traffic Light Reading can help students to monitor comprehension of informational text systematically and eventually independently. I usually introduce this method by describing the difference between driving in a familiar place (reading fiction) vs driving somewhere at night, in the rain- in a place that I've never been to before (reading nonfiction). I continue with this analogy, describing how I will need to review the route before starting out(preview the text), going slower than normal (slow down your reading pace) and looking for all of the road signs along the way( use text features). I may also need to go back and retrace my path if I get lost (rereading). Then, I distribute the traffic light signal cards. These are great for elementary kids to physically move the traffic light to the red, yellow and green lights as they move the stages of reading informational text. Each color corresponds to a step of reading informational text.
RED-Stop- Before Reading:
What do I already know about this topic?
Did I look at the pictures and bold-face words?
Get your post-it notes ready!
YELLOW- Slow Down- During Reading:
Can I tell myself the important facts so far?
Do I need anything clarified?
GREEN- GO- After Reading:
What did I learn?
What was the BIG idea?
What do I need to remember?
Record these ideas on your post it notes.
2. Find the WHAT and the So What? This is a strategy from Jennifer Serravallo's book Reading Strategies. She explains that most children are pretty good at naming the "what" of the main idea. They find this in the title... and usually go no further. The next step is the critical one- prompting kids to describe the "so what". This causes them to look deeper into the text to see what the "what" is mainly about. This takes a lot of practice, but I have my kids do it with an informational text that is always at their instructional level with little text on each page.
See photo below taken from The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo.
3. Include a nonfiction text with each library checkout each week: This is a new practice that I have started this year. My students are allowed to checkout a maximum of 4 books/week from our school library. I ask them to make one of their choices a nonfiction book from several leveled collections that we have in our library. ( I love the leveled DK Readers) They keep these at school in their book bins, which is helpful so that I can work in small groups on all kinds of nonfiction skills at any time. And... they are practicing reading informational texts at their instructional level.
These are just a few practical suggestions for making informational texts a standard part of your reading plans each week. Read more about these strategies from the experts below:
prezi.com/rvdjgxvctvtv/traffic-light-reading/ Traffic Light Reading Strategy
www.orange.k12.nj.us/cms/lib7/NJ01000601/Centricity/Domain/1297/Main%20idea%20Strategies%20Gr.%205.pdf- Main Idea Strategies by Jennifer Serravallo