With CCSS, students need to be reading more and more informational text. I am super lucky because our sixth grade social studies/science teacher helps us to meet this standard, however, I am still pushing to integrate more informational text into my class.
One way I have been doing this is by pairing each story with a similar informational text. I have been using the EBSCO search engine to find many of these articles. I found the article that I am using for this assignment on Middle Search which is powered by EBSCO. A lot of these article are lexiled, but this particular one was not. I chose the article "Class Act" because it is about Nadia Ruiz who recently finished her 100th marathon. It was originally published in Runner's World Magazine as a human interest story in 2013. The article portrays Ruiz as a strong "character" like Squeaky, but they two also have many differences.
I started off by having the students read to specifically find information about Ruiz's personality. They highlighted any information that could serve as evidence.
After the reading I had the students share with their table groups and discuss what Nadia Ruiz was like. The students were pretty interested in this article because running 100 marathons is such an amazing feat!
Once students have established an idea of Nadia's character, they will create an evidence map to describe her. This is the same map that they used to describe Squeaky earlier in this unit. The students will chose 4 different words to describe Nadia Ruiz. The words they choose should focus more on Nadia's character, experiences, or personality rather than any physical descriptors. Students will put their 4 words in the the bubbles on the map. For each descriptor, the students will find supporting textual evidence to write on the lines. The evidence that they have already highlighted should help them come up with descriptors and evidence.
One thing my students struggled with with was coming up with 4 different descriptors on their own. I had to definitely guide some of them to really think about Nadia Ruiz as a runner, young girl, and a family member.
I like using this evidence map because it is a simple way to help students draw specific evidence from the text.
Now that students have evidence maps for both Squeaky and Nadia, I want to have them compare and contrast their character traits using a Venn Diagram. Some of my students struggled to put a name to the differences but similarities were easier and more obvious.
Once they completed the Venn Diagram, the students transferred their ideas into writing. They wrote one paragraph explaining how Squeaky and Nadia were similar and different.
This was a basic activity to familiarize students with working with multiple texts. As the year goes on, their tasks will be more complex. Most of my students did really well transferring their ideas from the Venn Diagram into writing. I did have some students (maybe 10) who gave me more of a list rather than a paragraph.
Overall, I was very pleased that they were able to use textual evidence to make generalizations, and transfer them into writing!
I did allow students to work with partners on this activity, and in the future, I would probably have them work alone. They did so well with it that I don't think they needed support from a partner.
Another modification I would make in the future is having them put specific evidence into the Venn Diagram much like the evidence map. Some of my student had some superficial answers like....They were both girls....and having the students cite evidence would have eliminated these answers.