Tips and tools from an elementary school Literacy Coach
Thursday, December 6, 2012
New Unit: Nonfiction Features!
Today my hunny and I went to Corner Bakery to do a little work on our laptops and enjoy some tasty stuff. I worked away (blogging, creating. You know the business) and he worked as well. He is the photographer for our district, so he was working on editing some pictures of the cute little guys we go to work for every day! At one point, he flipped his laptop around and showed me the most beautiful picture. A little pre-K boy with his tiny little fingers clenched in glee, laughing like he'd never seen anything so funny. I immediately cracked up. This little guy just looked so joyful.
Then I asked, "When did you take this? Why is he laughing so much?" and my hunny said, "It was the first day of pre-K and they were doing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes during PE as fast as they could."
And this is when I became a smushy puddle of jelly. I started cry! Right there, in the Corner Bakery, I had tears spilling down my face and onto the napkins made of recycled material. Something about the sweetness of a little boy being so excited to do Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes on his first day of school was so moving that I fell apart like a person with a chemical imbalance.
Which I may well be.
Anyway, this is what I intended to blog about: (Don't you love my skill-less transition?)
Actual Blog Content:
One of the more difficult texts for kids to navigate is expository. This is unfortunate, because kids love to read about information and it's such an invaluable skill! I think it's largely due to the lack of experience kids have with informational text. The less exposure they have, the more difficult it is for them to glean information and identify how ideas are related.
My school has begun teaching about expository text this month. For the next several days, I'd like to share with you some of the things that we've planned to do in the expository genre.
To get started, we're helping kids do some basic text navigation by creating this anchor chart. Students often have experience identifying the text features. However, using them is a different story.
Ask a kid, "Where's the caption?" and he can probably point to a caption. Ask the same kid, "How does that help you? Why did the author include it?" and the kid stares blankly. (This is what I call the dead fish look.)
To me, this is a slight flag-raiser. Everything we do is to help our kids understand text and become better readers. If what we're doing doesn't do that... why do it? So to assist in this, we made sure we added a column on our chart entitled "Why was this feature included?"
Once students have learned to identify (and appreciate) the features text has to offer, they need to do these two things with them:
1. Use the features to make good predictions about the text
2. Gather information from the features
To help out with this, I'm sharing a couple of documents that you can use to help kids make and record their predictions and record facts they have learned from features of nonfiction.