Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Introducing Non-Fiction

I recently started my non-fiction unit with my sixth graders.  To begin, I had them complete a Venn Diagram where they compared and contrasted fiction vs non-fiction. Everyone knew that non-fiction meant stories that were factual and fiction were stories that are usually made up. However, it did surprise me that they did not know the name of many non-fiction text features. Most students had even forgotten what a caption was.   After working on the Venn Diagram, I had them look through various non-fiction books and magazines to try to list the features they could find.  Afterwards, we created an anchor chart on the elements of non-fiction.

To end day one, my students were all given a Time magazine and asked to locate the featured article and then write down what text features were within the article.  They enjoyed this and it was a quick assessment to see that they were able to identify the features they just learned.    

On day two I introduced Text Mapping.  I found this idea through Pinterest and the Text Mapping Project.  A summary of text mapping from their website states that:

 Textmapping is a graphic organizer technique that can be used to teach reading comprehension and writing skills, study skills, and course content. It is practiced on scrolls, which are an alternative environment to books. Textmapping and scrolls can be used strategically, but they are not strategies. They are enabling technologies - simple, basic tools which can be used for reading and classroom instruction. The same strategies that can be taught in books can be taught more clearly and explicitly by using scrolls and mapping.

    I had been searching for a way to teach non-fiction that would really engage my students.  Watching my students work together to complete one of these was really neat. I introduced how to text map in small groups while the rest of the class was working on a writing assignment. After they learned how to make a key and code they went on their own and made their scrolls. I heard some great discussion while they were asking each other clarifying questions about coding their scroll. After everyone had coded their maps I modeled thinking aloud to highlight important and unknown words.  I can never stress enough to my students that the whole text isn't important.  So many times I find them underlining every sentence! I believe the visual helped them realize that only a few things needed to be underlined in each section. 
     This was a great way to start nonfiction as my students used a hands-on method to find multiple text features.  My standard students especially get very bored when they see they are going to have a read a long article.  By adding colors and working in groups they were actually excited about learning.

   Thanksgiving break is here and I am so thankful for some time to relax and time to (hopefully) get ahead.   What are youe Thanksgiving plans?  Have a blessed holiday! 

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