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teaching nonfiction

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

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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

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“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. Below I describe an analogy I’ve started using with students to get beyond this problem.  A building has a purpose (to be …Read more

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Types of Context Clues in Info Texts

Ugh! Unfamiliar vocabulary in informational texts can be a huge stumbling block for our students. Below are several types of clues you can teach students based on the work of Baumann and colleagues. I’m not sure I’d give students this list. Instead I made a bookmark like the one below for a lesson with fourth …Read more

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The Coding Strategy – Helping Students Monitor for Meaning

Have you ever conferred with a student who had difficulty recalling what they’d read? Or who seemed to recall the “easy to understand” parts of a text but not the harder parts? These students may need instruction on monitoring for meaning. I use the Coding Strategy (Hoyt, 2008) to reinforce self-monitoring. After each sentence or …Read more

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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

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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

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Taking shared reading text to small group instruction

A few weeks ago, I visited several second and third grade classrooms to give a shared reading lesson and then take a small group into a guided reading lesson with the same text. Loved this!!! It makes complete sense that if I build knowledge around magnets or echolocation during a 20-30 minutes shared reading lesson …Read more

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Brief, focused opportunities to build background knowledge

Recently I was asked to teach a lesson to second grade students with an informational text on magnets. As I read through the text, I began thinking about how many of the students I’d be working with may not have had many language and hands-on experiences with magnets or magnetism or the concept of force, …Read more

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New Book for Reading Aloud, Close Reading – Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel (K. G. Davis, 2014) This would make for a great read aloud in 3rd, 4th or 5th grade with opportunities for rereading excerpts of text to think critically about the author’s central ideas and purposes. The main part of the text is written as a narrative with the purpose of …Read more

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