If you walked into my room this week during our whole group mini-lessons, this is what you would have heard:
Me: “We’ve been finding and studying nonfiction text features. What do we know about nonfiction text features?”
Kids: “You Can’t Ignore!”
Kids: “They tell us more!”
🙂 …I have nothing to say except that I fully admit I am nerdy and super cheesy when I teach! Sometimes I’m scared I suck all of the “coolness” out of my kids by the time they leave me in the spring. I worry I’ve turned them all into cheesy kids who will walk down the hallways of their corporate offices holding up the quiet sign as adults…
However, my kiddos can definitely tell me now that you can’t ignore text features because they tell us so much more about the topic! They LOVE nonfiction books and it is my favorite genre to teach. Children are fascinated by the photographs, the facts, and their ability to bring some prior knowledge into books about animals, nature, and the world around them. Nonfiction books are natural motivators of reading to most children, and as teachers, we need to take every opportunity to tap into that motivation.
In our building, we use the Comprehension Toolkit a lot. Have you used this or seen this? If not, it is a true treasure! Click on the link to take you to the website and learn more. The pack comes with some amazing read alouds (which contain lots of stretched texts for us as we dig into the Common Core). In addition, it walks you through some great ways to get students engaged in text in the areas of monitoring, making connections, questioning, summarizing & synthesizing, visualizing, inferring, and determining the importance of text. Once you feel comfortable with the layout of the lessons, you can use the structure of them with any text that you feel is worthy of studying and digging into with your kids.
This week, we used an article on spiders, a National Geographic Explorer magazine, and a book about tornadoes to discover and learn about text features. We studied one to two features a day and had discussions about what the purpose of each feature is. We made this
really ugly features/purpose chart as we were reading together.
Then, we searched through our nonfiction bookshelf baskets and found as many features of text as we could to share with our tables and friends. It was so fun to hear them calling out the names of the features and getting excited to discover a glossary or a caption.