Why do we avoid informational texts?
As teachers we know that our students need to be exposed to biographies, journals, and other genres of informational text. Yet we avoid them. We do read them with our students. Unfortunately, the amount of informational texts we read often pales in comparison to the amount of fiction that we read with them. The truth is, non-fiction texts are often full of more challenging vocabulary, and can be more challenging for our students to read. So, what’s the solution?
Informational text is a genre that I’ve been reading a lot of with my students lately. The last couple of months have been just as interesting for my students and I, despite staying away from traditional novels and fiction in our guided reading and read aloud lessons. This semester, I’ve pushed myself to only select informational texts, and it’s been very rewarding. I have, however, used a lot of strategies to bring the informational texts to life for my students.
One tip is that I select a slightly lower reading level for the informational texts than I would fiction. Due to additional vocabulary words my students are exposed to, lowering the level just a bit allows my students to infer the meaning of the new words while they’re reading. It also is a great opportunity for my students to practice inferring the meaning of new vocabulary.
A second strategy I’ve been using is modifying texts to make them more manageable for my second language and diverse learners. This allows more of my diverse learners to benefit from the informational texts as much as my other students. Taking a text and putting fewer lines on a page, adding a few pictures, and summarizing key details is a great way to engage more of my diverse learners.
This semester my students have been able to learn all sorts of information about history and science through informational texts that they otherwise would not. To round out our informational studies, I even picked a biography as our new read aloud. We’re reading “And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?” by Jean Fritz, and loving it. I created this lesson to engage them even more in our lessons.
Whichever informational texts you select to read with your students, remember to add a few of the strategies listed above. I hope your class has as much fun with informational texts as mine have.
Interested in reading other teaching tips this month? Check out these bloggers posts for December.