As students enter the room, I instruct them to complete the "sign in" on the Smartboard. The sign in is broken into four sections. Newspapers- yes or no and Magazines- yes or no. As students enter, they move the symbol into the box that marks their opinion on whether newspapers and magazines are nonfiction texts. (The symbol is on infinite cloner so it can be created over and over)
After everyone has voted, we analyze the symbols. This gives me a chance to assess background knowledge before we begin. After we figure out what "most" of them believe (most of mine believed that newspapers were nonfiction but magazines were not), I tell them that indeed newspapers and magazines are nonfiction texts. I did have to delineate with magazines as publications such as Highlights is not nonfiction.
I tell the students that over the next couple of days we are going to be working with newspapers and magazines to complete some projects. They are instantly engaged because it's different and because my students don't have ready access to this type of print.
I hand out the paper on which they are going to glue their artifact along with a whole hefty newspapers to each group. They have to share, but they don't mind. After I hand out the newspapers, I give each group a few magazines of the nonfiction sort.
The students went to town cutting but I began to notice that they were only cutting the pictures. I finally had to stop and redirect them because I think they thought they were making a collage. I told them they could cut out one favorite picture to keep but our focus was on finding text features. I encouraged them not to be "that guy" who only cuts out photographs. I challenged them to find more "grown up" features. And they only had to find ONE!!
After they find their text feature, they were name it and explain how it helps them understand the text.
After the students finish finding their text feature and explaining how it helps them understand the text, it is time to share. I have volunteers who have found the most "grown up" text features put theirs under the ELMO. The rest of the students grade their written question- 3 fingers up if it's a 3 (got it), 2 fingers for a 2 (almost got it) and 1 finger for a 1 (still needs work). We vote and give cheers for the student with the most elusive, hard to find nonfiction text structure. (For us it was a diagram of a house found in the Sunday home section)
Students then receive homework which requires them to complete the same activity at home finding a DIFFERENT nonfiction text feature and explaining how it helps them understand nonfiction text.
A note here: I have students do this activity again for a couple of reasons. I first want them to have more practice but I also want them to expand their horizons for nonfiction texts. What I'm really aiming for is a student who uses the Internet to find a text feature. Hopefully that happens and that will lead us into another discussion tomorrow about different forms of nonfiction texts.