Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Expository Nonfiction: It Motivates Students to Read!

Today, I’m continuing the series of posts I’m writing with educator Marlene Correia. As you can see, the second item on the 5 Reasons to Share Expository Nonfiction with Students infographic focuses on student motivation. We all know that motivation matters. A lot.

Some students are motivated to read expository nonfiction because it can help them answer a question, solve a problem, or learn a new skill. These students have a purpose that is fueling their desire to read.

Students who prefer expository nonfiction tend read because they want to understand the world and how it works and their place in it. They aren’t particularly interested in making an emotional connection with the characters they encounter in a story—fiction or narrative nonfiction.

But because some students in your class do love stories and others enjoy narratives and expository writing equally, we need to find ways to bridge the reading gap that separates them. Game-like activities can help by adding fun and creating a community of readers. Here are a few suggestions:     

Nonfiction Smackdown!
Students read two nonfiction books on the same topic. They can be two narrative titles, two expository titles, or one of each.

Students evaluate and compare the titles, recording their thinking on a worksheet that other students can use to help them make book choices. Thank you to Judi Pardis, school librarian at Plympton School in Waltham, MA, for inventing this fun activity.

Sibert Smackdown!
A teacher or librarian selects 10 books (some narrative, some expository), using a list that post on my blog in late November or early December as a guide. (I'll post it on November 30 this year.) Other carefully curated Mock Sibert lists are available from Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy, Michelle Knott at Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook, and Anderson’s Bookstore.
The Sibert Smackdown worksheet, which you can download from my website, uses a kid-friendly version of the criteria considered by the real Sibert committee.
Educators across the country have found creative ways for students to record their thinking, including Padlet, Flipgrid, posters, and voting forms where students uses words and pictures to explain the rationale for their choice.

Educators share what they are doing and celebrate the books using the Twitter hashtag #SibertSmackdown.
Inspired by the annual March Madness basketball tournament, literacy coach Shelley Moody worked with the instructional coach at Williams Elementary School in Oakland, Maine, to develop this month-long, whole-school activity in which students read 16 nonfiction titles (some narrative, some expository) and select their favorite. For more details about the Williams School program, check out this post and this post on Shelley's blog.
If you wish, this activity can be combined with the Nonfiction Smackdown!

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