Helpful Tips When Teaching Using Nonfiction Text (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.2)

I purchased a Scholastic News subscription for each of my students in October to supplement my social studies curriculum and it was probably one of the best investments I’ve made this school year. As part of my subscription, I get about two Scholastic News magazines for each child a month. The articles are kid-friendly current events that use a variety of text features to engage students. My students enjoy receiving these monthly magazines because it makes them feel “grown up” and they enjoy flipping through the pages. I use it in a variety of ways in efforts to get the ultimate bang for my buck. I paid about 5$ per child. For an extra dollar per child, I also get a science magazine, Science Spin, once a month. The great thing is, Scholastic provides a good amount of resources to help stretch the teaching power of both of these magazines.

Click here to read more about how to subscribe to Scholastic News. 

I use most of the resources that are provided by Scholastic. I also create a companion that I use with each magazine so that I have an accountability tool- students must complete this companion by the end of the week. This is how I get a participation grade for the lesson.

I wanted to share a strategy I used today when teaching from the Scholastic News. It is a very simple but super resourceful tip that can be used to build student engagement.

  • I started the lesson by having the students identify this article’s text features. They were directed to NOT read the text, but to only read the titles, captions, labels on the diagram, etc. We then talked about what they learned about the article prior to reading. We made inferences, drew conclusions and discussed predictions about the article.
  • I then set the purpose for reading: While reading this article, we want to think about why the author gave the article this title. I pointed out that the title of a nonfiction text is usually the shortest possible summary for that text- so if we think about why this article was given this title, it will help us identify the main idea of the article.
  • I read the article with the students. In general, I do this a few different ways. Sometimes I call on a volunteer because my students enjoy reading aloud and want to read for the class. I also do what I call a “pop read”. This is something I started doing years ago to get everyone reading and following along. I begin to read and when I pause, the students complete the sentence. Students like reading like this because everyone feels like they get a chance to read. For students who struggle a bit, they don’t feel like they have to read alone and they aren’t put on the spot. Reading like this also tends to move through the reading at a faster pace- it also allows me to guide to the reading by stopping to discuss important points, ask questions, and revisit concepts. Students are encouraged to highlight vocabulary words and important facts while we read.
  • After reading the article we discuss the purpose for reading. I call on students randomly to share their ideas.
  • I then give students 3-5 minutes to discuss as many facts about the article as possible with their group- they usually discuss the facts and vocabulary words that they highlighted while we read aloud. I tell the students to choose at least 3 important facts that they want to share with the class. They have to choose three facts because when I call on their group they have to share one fact. The catch is, they cannot repeat something another group has already said so by having a few facts prepared, they can say something different. This encourages students to choose facts that aren’t as obvious- pushing them to dig deeper into the text.
  • When the timer goes off, I roll a die ( I have 5 groups). Whatever number I land on, that group gets to share their fact. I make sure each group gets a chance to share a fact before calling on a group for a second time.
  • Behaviors I observe during this activity are: students talking to each other about the article, students referring back to the text, students rereading ideas that they’ve highlighted and found important, students excited about sharing what they’ve learned from the article.
  • I end this lesson by having students do a quick-write about the article.

If you subscribe to Scholastic News and you found this tip helpful, feel free to download the companions I’ve created for free. Even though we are at the end of the school year- this resource will always be helpful because when you subscribe to Scholastic News you have access to their archived articles. If you subscribe to Scholastic News next year, you will have pre-made companions for several articles. This will be perfect for using during centers and reading workshop.  Just click the image below to visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Be sure to leave feedback if you found this resource to be helpful!

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