When my announcement that we were going to be focusing on Nonfiction/Informational Text in our reading and writing these next several weeks, was met with some loud groans, I have to admit I might have smiled to myself and been secretly thrilled with the challenge of turning my third graders into lovers of all things nonfiction.
*Disclaimer: I will most undoubtably interchange the words informational text and nonfiction ALL. THE. TIME. but I think you all know what I mean! ;)
I had only lugged 40+ books to school on Tuesday to help introduce my kiddos to the wonderful world of nonfiction. I had spent 3+ hours planning out my reading and writing units over break so that I know exactly where we are headed these next 6-7 weeks and I am very excited. As I sat planning I was very thankful for the freedom I have in planning these units and for the depth I can go into with third graders. I have always loved teaching writing, but its always been a struggle. I have to say that teaching the 6 traits has been one of the best things to help me grow as a writing teacher. I wish I had moved through them with my 1st graders before. There is so much freedom within the 6 traits, but it has been the structure I have needed to help my kids move ahead as writers!
We started out on a text feature scavenger hunt. This served as a great pre-assessment for me to see what the kids knew about nonfiction. They each had their own book and I called out 6 text features we were going to be covering in our iBooks that day, one at a time, and we searched for them in the book we had. After we found them we talked about the purpose of each text feature. The more the kids browsed the books the more interested they became in the books they held in their hands. Before break I had asked them to write down some topics they wanted to learn more about. So all the books I chose out of the library were ones I knew they would be interested in! ;)
When we settled down later that morning for independent reading, I introduced my kiddos to their bag of books. I had missed using bags of books (read more about them here) and with the direction we were moving in with this unit, I knew it we needed to start using them again. For the first time they chose 3 books and I added in some post it notes for later one when we start recording more of our thinking. Most kids had one or two nonfiction books in their bags.
I love Independent Reading. These kids just get it.
What I loved the most about Tuesday was noticing that the kids automatically sat next to other kids that were reading on the same topic. The book talk I heard was fabulous! They would whisper new things they learned to each other. Throughout several conferences I noticed that a couple of the kids were doing a first read of the captions and other text features. We discussed that later on too that we don't have to read all of the text, which can be the nice thing about nonfiction!
I am so excited for where we will go in the next couple weeks. Be sure to check back weekly for more updates!