We frequently get questions from teachers who want to teach novels, but simply do not have enough time to read entire books with their classes. While we generally advocate for reading novels in their entirety, we completely understand that this is not always possible for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to English language levels and school schedules, as well as state, school, and district mandates. Today we want to give you a few tips for picking out which novel excerpts to read with your class.
If you are like me, there are few things more exciting than introducing students to amazing novels and other works of fiction, but finding ways to engage students in informational texts can be a little trickier. Today I want to share a lesson that I came upon recently that had students engaged in reading an informational text, researching credible sources, and discussing their findings. I'll outline the lesson below. Please comment with questions, comments, and other informational texts that your students love!
With a push in the common core to incorporate more informational texts and a teenage audience that is becoming more globally aware than any previous generation, I have found that using high quality magazines in the classroom can help capture young minds in relevant reading and writing. I especially like The New Yorker, but the same strategies below can be used for Time Magazine, National Geographic, your local newspaper, or many other options. (Be sure to vet articles carefully and get approval where appropriate.) Many newspapers and some magazines also have an educator's discount! Below are some ways that I'm using magazines in my classroom. I'd love to hear your questions, comments, or suggestions below!
If you follow this blog at all, you know that I LOVE using technology in the classroom, but today I want to share some of my favorite low tech teaching strategies. I am a terrible artist, but I find a lot of benefit in drawing as we read. Students remember my silly drawings and they get a sense of the big picture of the literature. I require note taking in my class and my students usually love taking these notes and invariably, they are so much better than mine.
Today, I want to share with you some of my rules for answering questions about literature. Please leave a comment with any additions or questions you have! Together we can make a master list and raise the bar in classrooms around the country!
One of the most difficult aspects of teaching To Kill a Mockingbird or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and having to deal with how to approach the "n" word in your classroom. Here is an excellent article written by Earl Ofari Hutchinson on the subject.
As we continue to grow in our common core competencies and take on new informational texts, we need tools to help students read closely and analyze texts that may be outside of their fiction plot structure comfort zone (and ours!). At a conference many years ago, I picked up a valuable strategy called the arch method, which I believe can do just that. I learned it from Valerie Stevenson who is a high school English teacher from San Diego, accomplished conference speaker, and incredible fount of knowledge. Originally, I used it as a way to help AP students answer prose analysis prompts, but with the common core emphasis on informational texts at all levels, I want to show you how it is an appropriate and valuable tool for all of our classes.
This article will begin to break down the Informational Texts Standards into practical and accessible “chunks,” giving tips on approaching the standard using Informational Texts. To see a breakdown of the Informational Text standards, see part one of this series.
Suppose you are teaching a novel rich in historical context, such as Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Clearly, it would be obvious to look at the era in which the story takes place – during the Great Depression. Having students read an article or complete research on the Great Depression would give students a clear background of the struggles of the era, helping them to comprehend the book on a deeper level.
The concept of inference is one of the most difficult to teach, however even as low as grade 4, the concept must be addressed in some form or another, usually by reading a fictional text and making an assumption or guess based on the evidence or facts from the text combined with their own prior knowledge.