Engaging Readers in Informational Text

Do your students gravitate more toward fiction books? I have often faced this problem as well. When I think about it, maybe it isn't a problem, but it is something I need to be aware of in the classroom.

We want our students to have a wide variety of interests. Different genres are important for students and they need to find ways to become engaged in many different areas of reading.

Reading informational text helps the students understand more about the real world, learn facts about real things, and helps them learn to use tools in reading that they may not find in fiction resources.

The question remains though...

How do we get our students interested and engaged in informational text?

Some kids just love informational books. My son for instance is one of those kids. He is only in Kinder but he doesn't favor Critter books, he wants space books or snake books. However, most of the kids I have taught favor fantasy or even realistic fiction.

There are five things that you can do as a teacher to help the student engagement of informational text increase in your classroom (not matter what age of student you teach!)

1. Direct teach the difference between a fiction book and a non-fiction book.

This may seem very basic, but so many kids (even in 5th grade) come up and say..."is this informational?" They truly do not know! It is not the fault of anyone, it is just something they have not learned to grasp yet. I always show this video, and I LOVE it! Kids of all ages love it too!

Fiction Vs. Non-Fiction Video

It shows two movie clips about penguins. One is a fiction movie and one is a documentary (informational is what I call it in class!) I feel it really helps the kids grasp the difference. Then of course we look at actual books and discuss the difference.

Making an anchor chart helps tremendously too! I like this one from Mrs. Denson's Adventures!

Part of the Common Core ELA Standards requires students to be able to read informational text and determine meaning. We think this reading note can be really handy and useful!:

2. After you know they understand the different it is time to immerse them in the text. 

Kids need to have time to read informational text to become familiar with the types of texts they like, and learn how to work their way through the text. The best way to do this is to provide informational text sections in your room.

I love Creating Readers and Writers Blog and she has a picture on her blog of a set up for the younger kids with informational text!

Creating Readers and Writers:  Nifty Nonfiction Blog Post  {See Mrs. DuMoulin's classroom library... it's packed with fun and exciting nonfiction!}:

It is easy to duplicate this with the older kids too though! Just book baskets, labels, and informational books!

3. Read informational text aloud to students! 

If the kids know you are interested in it, they will be too. Also, there is something that we teachers add to ANY text that makes it more special. :) My favorite sets to read to my students are the I Survived Series and the Who Was or Who Is Set!

The kids LOVE these books and they are great for the teacher to read because you can get in some history lessons too! :)

4. Teach the students how to work through text features. 

Text features can be a bit overwhelming for struggling readers. The bold print, captions, graphs, etc. The students see all of those "extra words" and "numbers" and want to give up.

I have fallen in love with this DIY text feature poster from Create Teach Share's Blog!

I have fallen in love with Non-Fiction over the past few years. I used to find…:

The kids love putting all of the pieces on and they have a great visual to look back at throughout their readings! We used file folders and old magazines from Scholastic! Worked like a charm! The students really need to understand all of the features or they will want to shut down while reading.

5. Lastly, encourage students to choose books they are interested in reading. 

So many times, students just go grab a book, flip through it, then grab another 5 minutes later. Lather, rinse, repeat until reading time is over. Am I right? I love this blog post from Conversations in Literacy!

Giving Students Choices with Informational Text- great freebie for doing this!!:

She talks about giving the kids choices but also about helping the kids choose a book that is right for them. Students can be easily disenchanted with reading if they are not interested in the books. Having the students take time to think about what attracts them to a book, what topics they are most interested in, and what they are curious about will help them develop a love for reading informational text!

I hope these 5 things have helped you think about informational text in your classroom and how you can better assist the students in your room to become engaged in reading all types of literature!

Happy Teaching!


Snow, Snow!

Do you get much snow where you live? Well, we live in Texas and snow is rare around here. I have a Kindergarten son and he so badly wants to see snow. He saw it a few years ago, but when he heard the weather man say it might snow on Friday (this past Friday) he was so excited. Well. It did not snow. Not a flake.

Luckily I had seen on @mrsplemonskindergarten instagram that she had bought some fake snow on Amazon! I found it, clicked purchase, and it was here two days later (well before Friday, which I knew would be a bust with no snow!) lol.

Needless to say, after we did this (on Saturday), I just had to blog about out so you could go get some and do it with your students! Any age!! So before I chatter on, if you are in a hurry and can't finish reading this blog...that is totally fine! You can find the fake snow I bought here. If you can hang out, I have a freebie you can do with the younger grades after they are finished playing with the snow!

The snow is easy to prepare. Just pour it into a bucket (it looks like salt.)

Then add two quarts of water!

After you do that, just mix it up with your hands or a spoon!

Yep, it looks and feels like snow! It is cold and wet, it does not melt, and if it does get on the carpet or whatever, it dries out quickly with no mess (trust me!) lol. It is the strangest, yet coolest stuff EVER! It is not cold enough to need gloves, but it is cold. 

I had some finger puppets from Christmas laying around that we put in the snow and my kids played with those! They had the best time! After we were done, I just stored it in a cabinet (it lasts for days and days!) When you get ready to dispose of it, sprinkle it in your yard and it will add water to your grass (or plants!) 

I know this is not real snow, nor can kids go and play in it or build a snowman, but when you live in Texas and never see snow...you are happy with anything that resembles snow! My son and daughter LOVED this! I just knew it would be a great sensory bin for younger grades!

Now, for the freebie I promised! This is obviously for K or 1st kids but my son is in Kinder and is working on writing. So I made this mainly for him and wanted to share it with my blog readers! If you don't teach K or 1st, maybe you can share it with your team at school or something! :)

My son isn't a fan of writing...anything, but he loved this. I know it was because the activity before it was so fun! When kids have fun with something, they don't mind writing about it!

The kids simply use words to describe the snow (sensory words.) Then the kids write two sentences about the snow. My son is working on expanding his sentences. He is very much a "I like the snow" writer. When I (and his teacher) want him to be an "I like the snow because it was cold and wet" writer. :) However, we are getting there and he is doing wonderful! 

We ran out of time and had to go somewhere before he could color, so I colored these later. He was unhappy that I did not let him color them. (oops.) 

You can find the freebie in a google drive link here! 

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and share this with a friend if you think they will enjoy it too! Here is the links for both things one more time! Have a great week!

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