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teaching with informational text

“Why do we have to annotate?”

“Why can’t I just highlight?” Ever heard that from a student? A few weeks ago I had the honor of teaching a class of 5th grade students with the objective of convincing them that annotating is a powerful way to make sense of a source–I did this by helping them realize the value of annotating …Read more

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Orally rehearsing with key words can boost writing

Do your students struggle to compose sentences about nonfiction topics that make sense or sound right? Do they lack structure at the sentence and paragraph level? Here’s a few tricks I’ve been trying with small groups of late-early and transitional stage readers. As part of a conversation generate key words they will use to orally …Read more

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Explode to Explain

Are your students citing “text evidence” without really having control of the meaning of the quote they choose? Do they state “in the text it says” and then fill in the next blank with a quote they may not really understand? Do they forget to explain further or elaborate? Here’s an idea a group of …Read more

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Can your 6-8th grade students explain how two authors present the same info and reveal different points of view?

Here’s a lesson for teaching students to analyze how two authors writing about the same topic may shape their presentations of key information by emphasizing different evidence or advancing different interpretations of the facts (Common Core Standard 7.9). Go to Science News for Students and locate an article that cites a study. Most of these …Read more

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What about using the language of text structure to help students compare texts?

Teaching the language of text structures can help students compare and contrast texts more easily. I gave a lesson to a 5th/6th grade class a few weeks ago with two current event articles on drones. The first article “How can you get a bird’s eye view?” from Wonderopolis is written in an enumerative (or descriptive) …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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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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How much independent reading of nonfiction in k-8?

My last blog entry was about starting the year by encouraging students to read nonfiction. This is a big deal in the field of Common Core and in a world where we have to read a lot to understand what’s happening around us. How much independent reading is sufficient, though?  Recently, at an institute,  I …Read more

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Do students understand what we mean by “key details”?

Is the term “key details” vague for your students? I’m teaching 2nd/3rd grade students this week and trying out an anchor chart that attempts to make the term “key details” more concrete for students. I think a “key detail” might change depending on what our purpose is for reading. Here are a few of the …Read more

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Tips for using ‘Reading A to Z’ texts for close reading

Reading A to Z is a common classroom resource for leveled informational texts. There are some good texts in this collection – I would just be cautious, read for quality, and choose with clear objectives or text-dependent questions in mind. Below I describe how a group of teachers and I chose excerpts from Reading A …Read more

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