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teaching nonfiction

Helpful Predictions vs. Not

“That’s not enough,” I said. The students’ mouths dropped open. The look on their faces said “Whaaat???” We’d just watched the first dozen seconds of the video “Baby Elephants.” I’d paused the video and asked them to make a prediction. “Based on the introduction, what do you think you’ll be learning about in this video?” …Read more

Got Striving Readers? Recommend Series Nonfiction

Snakes. Dinosaurs. Rocks. I remember tutoring a young striving reader who would not come into the room until I showed him the book I wanted him to read that day. He had one condition. It had to be nonfiction! I’m pretty sure this student’s reading would have been on-track the previous year if he’d had …Read more

Mnemonics for Making Predictions with Info Texts – HIP, TELL, THIEVES

A student glancing at a text and predicting “It is about dolphins” is just not good enough. This surface level prediction will not help them as much as an informed prediction. This is what I would want students to say in a prediction: “I think this book is going to be about the dolphins that …Read more

Critical Thinking Across Multiple Texts – Choosing Texts Part 2

I’m hooked on the art of locating and layering texts for students to read and think across. In my last entry, I described a series of lessons where middle school students used an evolving definition of “honorable” to think critically about the role of medieval age warriors and modern warriors. We chose text excerpts and …Read more

Critical thinking across multiple texts – Part I

In a 7th grade social studies class I visited a few weeks ago, the students used an evolving definition of “honorable” as a lens for reading multiple texts on warriors – ancient and modern. In the image below, the blue text was our original definition. As the students engaged in discussions about what it means …Read more

“Building” analogy to teach “text structure”

How many of us hunt for the perfect texts to teach “text structure” and end up just banging our heads against the wall? It’s because texts are more complex than five simple structures. I’ve been thinking about this and tried out a new analogy with a group of students today – text structures are like …Read more

4 Types of Context Clues in Info Texts: Bookmark & Lesson

Ugh! Unfamiliar vocabulary in informational texts can be a huge stumbling block for our students. The image below is a bookmark a colleague and I developed for a lesson. I’ve also attached a word document with the bookmarks for easy copying. We based this on the work of Baumann and colleagues (2009). 4 Types of …Read more

The Coding Strategy – Helping Students Self-Monitor while Reading Info Text

Do you have students who read a text and are clueless about what they read? Or when you prompt them to share what they learned from a text, they frantically look back at the last sentence they read and then spit it out verbatim? Before we get into conversations about main ideas, author’s point of …Read more

Book review & text-dependent questions for War Dogs: Churchill and Rufus

War Dogs: Churchill and Rufus (Selbert, 2013) has a lot of potential for teaching in grades 4-5 with students studying World War II.  While this book is listed for grades 2-5, I think it would be hard for 2nd and even 3rd grade students to understand the main ideas. For all readers, the author assumes …Read more

Teach “example” as a type of detail info text authors use

Explicitly teach the academic vocabulary word “EXAMPLE” as a way to discuss what an author is doing to explain or describe a concept. Take a moment to read the following. What do you notice the author doing as far as using examples? Look closely and you will see. Magnets can be found on a can …Read more