Saturday, November 11, 2017

AASL Handout: Innovative Activities for Teaching Nonfiction Reading and Writing

Author-educator Melissa Stewart shares ideas for helping K-5 students develop information literacy skills as they read award-winning nonfiction books and produce their own informational writing. Attendees will go home with creative ways to support ELA curriculum standards as well as the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Lerner.
 

READING
Nonfiction Smackdown!

Upper elementary students read two nonfiction books on the same topic. Then they evaluate and compare the two titles, recording their thinking on a worksheet that other students can use to help them make book choices.


Sibert Smackdown!
Similar to Nonfiction Smackdown!, but books are selected from a list of picture books contenders that I compile on my website. The worksheet uses a kid-friendly version of the criteria considered by the real Sibert committee. Several librarians have also used their own creative ideas to record students’ thinking, such as Padlet, Flipgrid, posters, and voting forms where students write the rationale for their choice.
March Madness Nonfiction
Inspired by the annual March Madness basketball tournament, students participate in a month-long, whole-school activity to select their favorite nonfiction title. Can be combined with the Nonfiction Smackdown!
 
 

 

 
 
“March Madness has not only created an energy and excitement for read aloud; it has also exposed students to more nonfiction. [It has been] a springboard for discussions of text features and structures, vocabulary and author's purpose.” –Instructional Coach
 
“I like that these nonfiction books really make you think about things for a while and then sometimes your thinking changes.” –Fifth-grade student

 
Real Reviewers!
Upper elementary students read nonfiction book reviews on Goodreads. Then they read a nonfiction book of their choosing and write book review, using the Goodreads reviews as a guide. After a round of proofreading, student type the reviews into the school district’s library catalog (http://destiny.carthagecsd.org/).
http://celebratescience.blogspot.com/2016/06/showing-students-that-their-opinions.html
 

#ClassroomBookaDay
Read aloud and briefly discuss a picture book every day of the school year. Display book covers, so it’s easy to refer back to them for comparison to new texts (theme, text structure, voice, writing style). They can also be used as mentor texts during writing workshop. You can work with teachers to get them started and make book recommendations or you could adopt a classroom.
 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/classroombookaday/
 

 
https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/classroombookaday-the-power-of-shared-picture-book-stories-by-jillian-heise/
 
http://www.heisereads.com/

 
Text Feature Posters
After reading a variety of age-appropriate books, K-2 students use the text features in those books as models in creating their own text feature posters.
 

 
http://www.melissa-stewart.com/pdf/Nonfiction_Text_Feature_Posters.pdf#zoom=70

 
PRE-WRITING
Choosing a Topic
Ideas are all around us. I can get inspired by things I read, things people say to me, or things I see or experience myself. For me, the challenge is keeping track of the ideas, so I have one when it’s time to begin a new book. I have an idea board in my office, and I use it to remind myself about ideas I’ve had.
 

Teachers could have an idea board in their classroom or they could encourage students to write their ideas down on the last page of their writer’s notebook. ABC Brainstorming can work too. Other ideas include:
 
A Wonder Wall
 
An Idea Jar

 
Why Students Copy Their Research Sources and How to Break that Habit
Why do students copy rather than expressing ideas and information in their own words? Because they haven’t taken the time to analyze and synthesize the material they’ve collected so that they can make their own meaning. In other words, they haven’t found a personal connection to the content, and that’s a critical step in nonfiction writing.
 

 

 
Team Notetaking
Pairs or small groups participate in collaborative note taking on paper or using google docs, so that struggling students can access the thought process of more advanced students. This activity also reduces copying from sources materials.
 
http://celebratescience.blogspot.com/2016/02/team-note-taking.html

 
Sources Students Can't Copy
Encourage students to use a wide variety of source materials, including some that it's impossible to copy, such as personal observations, webcams, and interviews. To facilitate interviews, your school can develop a list of adults in the school community with knowledge in particular area.
 
http://celebratescience.blogspot.com/2017/10/in-classroom-community-of-experts.html

 
Create a Visual Summary
When students take the time to represent their notes visually as infographics or other kinds of combinations of words and pictures as part of their pre-writing process, they will find their own special way of conveying the information. And using that lens, they can then write a report that is 100 percent their own.
 

 
Use Thought Prompts
Invite students to synthesize their research and make personal connections by using some of the following thought prompts:
—The idea this gives me . . .

—I was surprised to learn . . .
—This makes me think . . .
—This is important because . . . 

 
WRITING
Struggling with Structure
While writing Can an Aardvark Bark?, I experimented with 4 different text structures over a 4 year period before the manuscript was accepted for publication. The timeline on my website shows the details of my process through a series of 8 video, which take about 11 minutes to watch. The timeline also features  downloadable version of 4 rejected manuscripts, so students can see what changed over time.
 
http://www.melissa-stewart.com/timeline_aardvark/timeline_aardvark.html
 
https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/a-tool-for-teaching-text-structures-and-revision-by-melissa-stewart/

 

Text Structure Swap
After reading No Monkeys, No Chocolate, upper elementary students make book maps to get a stronger sense of the architecture of the main text’s cumulative sequence structure. Then each child chooses one example from the text and rewrite it with a cause and effect text structure. The third and fourth links are for worksheets that guide a similar activity based on the content in Can an Aardvark Bark?
 
 
http://www.melissa-stewart.com/pdf/Nonfiction%20Text%20Structure%20Book%20Maps.pdf#zoom=70



Same Structure, New Topic
Students read a selection of my books and chose one to use as a mentor text. They created a book that emulated the structure and style of my book but presented information about a different topic.

http://celebratescience.blogspot.com/2017/09/in-classroom-what-great-idea.html




A Feel for the Flow/ Colorful Revisions
Typing out a mentor text can help students get a fee for the flow. They can study how the text was constructed by highlighting various elements with different colors. They can use a similar technique to look for ways to improve their own works in progress.
 
http://celebratescience.blogspot.com/2017/05/in-classroom-language-devices-in.html
 

 

Radical Revision!
First graders write a piece of nonfiction. When the students are in second grade, teachers share the No Monkeys, No Chocolate Revision Timeline on my website and ask the children to revise the piece they wrote in first grade. Both drafts are placed in a folder, and students revise again in third, fourth, and fifth grade.

 
 
Authentic Illustration
After K-2 students write nonfiction about a topic of their choice, children in another class at the same grade level illustrate the text. Then the original writers review the artists’ work and write a polite letter asking for any necessary changes. This activity mimics the process nonfiction picture book authors go through when they review sketches created by an illustrator.
http://celebratescience.blogspot.com/2016/10/a-picture-is-worth-thousand-words.html
 

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait for the Smackdown!! So many great ideas here, Melissa!

    ReplyDelete