We kicked off Information Text Units today in both Reading and Writing. We know that for many of the kids, these units will really propel them forward in their development. We are excited about the learning and growth that will happen over the next weeks!
Traditionally, much of the elementary school curriculum has focused upon the reading of fiction, but extensive research has now established the importance of the literacy curriculum also focusing upon supporting children to be proficient in reading complex informational texts. Most of the required reading in college is informational in structure and challenging in content. Approximately 96% of the sites on the World Wide Web are expository in form. In addition, the majority of reading and writing adults do is non-fiction, with much of it informational in nature.
Thus, professional standards within literacy education have, over the last few years, clarified to educators the necessity of ramping up instruction in this area. In fact, by 4th grade, the distribution of literary to informational reading is meant to be 50%/50%.
Long-View kids will do a great deal of high-level work during Reading Workshop over the next weeks. We'll be pivoting from starting the year focusing on the genre of personal narrative, to immersing ourselves in non-fiction.
Some of our lessons around this unit of “Reading to Learn” will be:
Nonfiction texts can be in narrative or expository form, and nonfiction texts can also be a hybrid of both forms.
A large focus of this unit is the concept of "main idea and details." We will talk about thinking of the main idea as the “box” and the details as the “bullets.” When we are writing notes on what we have read, we will work on recording the main idea in a box and list the details will bullets.
We will discuss the fact that good readers pause after a chunk of text to take stock of what they have read and learned, and they constantly categorize information into main ideas and details in their minds.
While reading information texts, we will learn the strategy of using headings nor subheadings, and when those are not in the text, we'll talk about looking for “pop out sentences” (like topic sentences) to help us chunk information as we read.
We will discuss the ideas of “reading for significance” and “approaching nonfiction reading as a learner.” We will note ways to learn from expository texts.
We'll think about the idea that getting better as a reader requires clear goals and deliberate work. Our learners, therefore, will analyze their own reading, reflecting upon what they do well and what they’d like to improve.
Our writing unit, called “The Art of Information Writing,” will be focused upon:
Writing information texts about topics on which we are "already experts." Later in the year we will focus upon research, but for this particular unit the focus will remain on writing skills, so we'll talk about how to plan and grow ideas about topics with which we already have deep knowledge. There will be a lesson or two on researching supporting facts and ensuring accuracy.
We’ll talk about the idea that writers plan and grow ideas. They craft a table of contents for their whole information book, and they do similar work to plan out each chapter. We'll focus on crafting introductions and discuss elaboration strategies.
Will discuss poet Georgia Heard's point: “Good writing is good writing, no matter what genre you are writing in.”
We'll note the power of organizing and reorganizing informational texts, as this helps writers think about their information in new ways.
We will study a number of new mentor authors.
From a parent perspective, we hope you will deliberately work to increase availability and exposure to informational texts, while we work to thoughtfully increase the amount of instructional time with informational texts within the Long-View literacy + block and ensure explicit teaching of meaningful strategies.