Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How To Use Informational Text In Your Classroom

Whether you are reading this at the beginning or end of your work day, take a moment and do a mental "reading list" inventory.  What works of fiction are you currently reading?  During the day, how many news articles, websites, journal articles, non-fiction books, emails, documents, directions, graphs, charts, maps and diagrams will you be looking at to gather information?  What kind of writing and talking will you do? Will any of it require you to go back into the "informational text" materials to find information to support what you are writing or talking about?  I suspect that many of you spend a great deal of your professional and personal time focusing more on the "informational" side of text then the "literary" side of text - maybe by choice, maybe by necessity.  I know I carry my Kindle around just to grab a few minutes of "story time" for myself during the day.   Students in grades k-12 also need to experience a blend of literary and informational text, in many forms and across all subject areas, to help them access knowledge and ideas they will need to be successful in life.

Ohio's New Learning Standards for ELA/Literacy, drawing from the Common Core ELA Standards for Literacy, include the use of informational text in all grades and content areas as a way for students to gather and build knowledge.  Another way of looking at this it to consider yourself a teacher of the language of your content area.  What skills do students need to be able to read and write like a scientist, a historian or an artist? What strategies might you help them learn to access features of informational text - like charts, infographics, maps, diagrams, tags, interactive data tables?  One of our Bay Village Schools District-Wide Goals focuses on the use of Informational Text across our district. To help you with your understanding of this goal, and to begin to share instructional strategies that will help your students access the "language" of your content area, I have compiled some resources for you.

Define  Informational Text:
What informational text will students be able to use to build knowledge in your classroom?  How will you provide access to a variety of informational text?  What strategies might you help your students learn?

  • Using Close Reading skills 
  • Understanding content vocabulary in context
  • Using a variety of rich, complex text

What might this look like in a classroom?
Mr. Hossak's 5th grade Classroom (EngageNY)
Exemplar Lesson Plans - scroll down to see Informational Text (achievethecore.org)

Guiding Questions For Instruction Using Informational Text.  (based on achievethecore.org - Instructional Practice Guides)

  • How does the unit allow students to persist in efforts to seek evidence for their responses by returning to the info text when discussing or collaborating?
  • What opportunities are provided for students to build on each other's observations or insights around a piece of informational text - including charts, maps, primary docs etc.?
  • What tools/strategies will students be able to use to help them gain content knowledge from informational text?
  • How are questions and tasks designed to help students build academic vocabulary (content or domain specific vocabulary and syntax)?
  • How are questions and tasks designed to require students to use details from the text to demonstrate understanding and support their ideas about the text?
  • What factors have been considered to make sure the text used is at or above the complexity expected for the grade level?





1 comment:

  1. I just bookmarked this site to look back into the great resources here. I think that Common Core requires the student to "think like an author" and that is what I tell my students. Informational or literary, they need think like and be authors.


This is a moderated blog. All comments are subject to review before they are posted to the site.