Non-Fiction Struggles

This year’s class is struggling with non-fiction, both in reading and writing.  Our first attempt at research was only partially successful. Instead of using their fiction strategies to help them read deeply, they have been scanning the books for interesting information which leads to written pieces full of ‘fun facts’, but little coherence.

Today I found two videos which may help by attacking the issue from both directions. The first is a reading mini-lesson on how to dig into non-fiction text.  The teacher talks about using an ‘explaining’ internal voice when reading nonfiction texts. She demonstrates the difference between that and the ‘storytelling’ or narrative voice they more commonly use. She models picking out the main idea, and identifying supporting points.The class is a little bit older than mine, but I think I can adapt it by using simpler, shorter text on a topic that we will be studying: landforms. By using a modified text I can use the same lesson structure.

The second is a mini-lesson on writing non-fiction texts. The teacher models connecting using nonfiction writing strategies connected to a topic they have been studying (forces and motion).They are asked to write about something they do that involves motion. She demonstrates how to formulate chapters that stay on point.

https://www.youtube.com/user/stevespanglerscience?sub_confirmation=1&feature=iv&src_vid=HAR90LDb-Uc&annotation_id=annotation_3848466621

We are just beginning a unit on landforms. I can see these two videos as a way to integrate writing and science: reinforcing and assessing the science content while strengthening reading and writing skills.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

An Introduction

I’m almost positive that this blog will be read only by me. However, on the chance that some lone wanderer of the internets happen to pass this way, I’m going to introduce myself.  I’ve been teaching for about 34 years, the last 8 years in second grade. Four years ago I began trying to implement the Daily 5 and CAFE reading format, with which I instantly fell in love. Two years ago I was asked to host a Teacher Lab for the lower elementary teachers in my building. I decided to blog my way through the year: the second year of my full implementation and also the year I presented it to my colleagues. I set up the blog. That was as far as I got.

Now I’m making another attempt as I try to learn about using new technologies and web tools in my classroom. In the meantime, my school was introduced to Visible Thinking and I began teaching math with the Investigations program. I found I loved all three, and that they fit remarkably well together. Although the title of the blog is ‘dailycafelife’ , I will be blogging about all three structures and how they work together.

If you’ve wandered this far, I hope you find something of use.