Friday, January 10, 2014

Common Core Care Package: 5 Ways to Sneak Nonfiction into Your School-day Schedule*

1. Booktalks
If you’re a teacher-librarian, you probably already do booktalks on a regular basis, but they also work well in a classroom setting. Think of a booktalk as a 2-3minute commercial that introduces students to a book. If you teach grade 3 or higher, try modeling a booktalk a few times, and then invite your students to choose a favorite book and do booktalks of their own.
 Booktalking is a great technique for introducing your students to the classroom book collection. If you alternate between fiction and nonfiction titles, students will be exposed to a wide range of literature. By including nonfiction titles, you let students know that you value nonfiction and find it interesting to read.

2. Read-alouds
By adding nonfiction picture books to your classroom read-alouds, you provide engaging opportunities to explore content. Choose books with a varying voices so students can explore the many ways to write nonfiction and come to realize that an author's writing style often reflects content. Here are a few recommendations:

Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre

Army Ant Parade by April Pulley Sayre

The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman

Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart

Those Rebels, Tom and John by Barbara Kerley
Lightship by Brian Floca

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan

Redwoods by Jason Chin

Here Is Antarctica by Madeleine Dunphy

An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Aston Hutts

Move! by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Neo Leo by Gene Barretta

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill

Frog in a Bog by John Himmelman

Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

Mosquito Bite by Alexandra Siy & Dennis Kunkle

3. Use Nonfiction as Mentor Texts
When you teach writing, use high-quality trade titles (such as the ones listed above) as authentic models for structuring text, crafting beginnings and endings, choosing precise words, selecting voice, and more. Some students may understand the power of vibrant verbs, sensory details, similes, metaphors, alliteration, hyperbole, imagery, and other language devices better by interacting with examples in both fiction and nonfiction texts.

4. Pair Fiction and Nonfiction Titles on Related Topics
Reading fiction and nonfiction titles together enriches student experience by allowing them to make real-world connections to the ideas or themes of a fiction work. It also provides students who prefer nonfiction with a concrete way to approach the story. For more information about this teaching strategy and sample book pairings, see this article.

5. Give Students Opportunities to Skim and Scan Nonfiction Texts
When students have free time, encourage them to look through nonfiction titles and complete activities that involve identifying text structures, text features, key ideas, or specific language devices. You can find some sample ideas here and here and here.
*Strategies based, in part, on suggestions in Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits by Donalyn Miller with Susan Kelley (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2014).


T. said...

We are part of a virtual school and I, as a Learning Coach, have worked with my daughter's ALP teacher to create what we are calling a MIND (Making Interesting Nonfiction Discoveries) Laboratory (virtual class) where we present compelling Nonfiction and then think deeply about it together and inspire them (students and other Learning Coaches) to do something about what they have learned [e.g. create / build / write / research etc.] and then share those results within the class community. No assignments -- just inspiration!

Melissa Stewart said...

Wow, T, what a fantastic idea! I bet the kids love it.

T. said...

We're just getting started with the concept this semester so I am anxious to see what kind of creative response this unleashes! The book Invent to Learn was the unexpected catalyst for this endeavor.