Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nonfiction strategies

Our class loves author Nic Bishop! We have been noticing his "fingerprints" that interest, entertain, and fascinate readers. His books have been great anchor texts for exploring how to save important information and to think more deeply about nonfiction. One of my students decided he doesn't use headings because he wants readers to really think about the main ideas on each page without just giving them away:) His photography has our class hooked. 

Below are some strategies our readers have been focusing on to comprehend nonfiction (copied from our class news...)

Zoom in: Readers preview non fiction by zooming in on text features such as a title, table of contents, captions, headings, charts, photographs, etc

Activate schema: Readers think about what they already know about a topic before they read. This will help them understand the information

Read in chunks: Readers can read small chunks of non fiction to get information about a topic or a question they have. Nonfiction can be read out of order depending on what specific information the learner is looking for.

Turn headings into questions: Readers can turn a heading into a question to focus their thinking to find specific information about a topic.

Pause to SAVEReaders pause as they read to SAVE important information. They can use boxes to locate main ideas and jot bullets underneath to write down important information.

Pause to THINKReaders pause to think about what they have just read. They ask questions, make predictions, infer meaning to unknown words or ideas, connect to what they already know, etc

Determine important vs interesting informationReaders have to read and think about what is important to know vs what is interesting to know. We learned that many authors put interesting or fascinating facts in a book to make it entertaining for the reader.

Think about text structureText structure is the way a book is organized, the bones of the text. Think about text structure helps readers organize how they jot notes about a book, or determine important information. Some commons types of text structure are description, sequential, cause and effect, problem and solution, compare and contrast. Many books include more than one text structure for readers to notice.

Tune in to key wordsReaders notice key words that are important about a topic they are reading.

Our next goal is to start sharing what we are learning from nonfiction with each other through our class blog and conversations with peers and family at home. We think readers need to share the exciting things they are learning with one another to help our important thinking grow!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thinking about nonfiction

     I've been thinking harder about teaching with nonfiction this year and have tried out some new resources, new strategies, and new anchor texts. Today a strategy we tried seem to make sense. We have been talking about how readers take in a lot of information when they read nonfiction and they have to pause to "push the SAVE button" on information they think is important or information they want to make "sticky" (Readers make important thinking "sticky" or allow it to stick to their brains by jotting/writing about it and talking about it). They have to use headings to find main ideas and then search for important details to save about a topic.
      Readers also have to pause to THINK about the information they are taking in. We ask questions, think about schema we have filed away on the topic, infer, predict, etc.
     So today we decided to pause and save, then pause and think. We read chunks of text together. Partners turned and talked to SAVE, discussing what they thought was important vs interesting. Next they turned and talked to THINK about the information. Simple strategy, but it helped us think about what quality reader's response entries might look like using nonfiction. They might show readers saving important information and thinking about it using strategies or "reading powers" to help them understand the topic more deeply. It also allowed us to notice all the different types of thinking readers do about nonfiction.
     I'm hoping pausing to save and pausing to think will build deeper understandings of nonfiction students read. I'm going to start using short nonfiction articles for students to save and think on as a weekly routine, that will hopefully bring on some good discussions on how readers remember, understand and extend meaning of what they read.

Below are some of our anchor charts to guide our thinking.

Anyone have any must use nonfiction anchor texts? I'm really trying to beef up my nonfiction read alouds! 

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Word for 2012

"People often forget what we say or do, but rarely how we made them feel."

"Enthusiasm is contagious. Start an epidemic.: - Don Ward

"If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it."  ~Mary Engelbreit

     As I look forward to 2012 one single word keeps popping up into my head...ENTHUSIASM. I truly believes it makes ALL the difference in inspiring kids to get excited about what they are learning. Enthusiasm drives them to read more, write more, think more, problem solve, wonder and to KEEP GOING, to persevere  even when things are hard. I also believe it makes a big difference in overall happiness in life. Being around others who are enthusiastic about their life and what they do is inspiring and motivating to me. I want to be more like these people. A positive attitude to me is important and at times can be difficult to maintain even when I have the best of intentions.
      I noticed this year for whatever reason, my positive attitude was slumping a bit. I kept my energy up in the classroom but have found myself complaining more, getting down about what I can't control, feeling more overwhelmed, etc. But, I am refocused and ready to start off the new year with positive, enthusiastic energy. 
     I need to remind myself in 2012 that my enthusiasm, or rather my attitude towards things I cannot change or control is essential in creating a positive classroom, school, and home environment.        Entering my first year teaching in a new "testing" grade and experiencing my first year as mother to two little girls has definitely been a challenge and an extreme test of balance. I think if I can continue to be enthusiastic about the career that I love, and the family I love, challenges and all, the path ahead of me will be easier and more enjoyable.
     I know that when I am around people who find joy in life, their faces, attitudes, and expressions become mirrors and I find myself smiling along with them. I will strive to maintain a positive attitude this year and to hopefully keep kids excited about learning.
     Thank you to Mandy and Cathy for getting me thinking about my goal for the year. Your posts keep me renewed and excited about teaching!