Nonfiction writing has been one of my biggest struggles as a fifth grade teacher. My students love reading true texts, but when it comes to the writing, they struggle to carry over all the wonderful craft moves we’ve learned from fiction writing.
Even though I allow them to choose a topic and decide how to gather research, in the past, most of the writing I received was just a string of facts. So this year I tried something new. I let them choose how they present the information. They create an (1) infographic, (2) an article with an expository writing style, (3) or a narrative.
I had baskets of books pulled and ready so students could easily find titles that were narrative and expository. I also pulled infographic texts like National Geographic’s By the Numbers series and shared the link to the Kids Discover Infographic website.
As students read on their own or in small groups, they kept track of text traits they noticed on a Mentor Text Observations worksheet.
Here are a few of their pieces:
|Narrative text about D-Day|
|Expository text about California wild fires|
|Infographic about tornadoes|
Ultimately, giving my students choices within their writing didn’t add any extra work to my plate. Instead, it renewed us all, and we saw the power of collaboration around nonfiction writing. Watching students celebrate and take pride in their work made me realize just how powerful choice can be, not only in reading, but also in writing.
Amanda Schreiber is a fifth grade teacher at Mason Intermediate School in Mason, Ohio. She blogs at My Shoestring Life and loves celebrating the work of her students. You can find her on social media as @msaplusteacher.