Inspiring Students to Read Nonfiction Part 1

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SWBAT demonstrate their understanding of a nonfiction text through multiple choice and short answer questions.

Big Idea

Great narrative nonfiction can be more unbelievable than fiction.

Warm Up

5 minutes

To open class today, I will display the image and quote below.  Above the image, I will include the instructions: Please use the link on your laptops to look up the definition of the word perseverance. Then, examine the image and quote below and respond to the following question in your journals. "How does the person in the image display perseverance?  Does this make her seem powerful?"

After students have written for a few minutes, I'll ask for a student from each table to share as we discuss perseverance and their responses to the girl and quote in the image.


35 minutes

After the warm up, I will have students take out a copy of the September issue of Scope Magazine (already in their caddy).  They will immediately notice that the girl on cover is the same as the girl from the image we used in the opener and this will peak their curiosity.  (This cover is my lesson image for this lesson.)

We will discuss the cover and turn to pages 4and 5 where the article begins.  I'll ask students to skim and scan the entire article and share their predictions about it. Several will have already heard of Malala on television.

*Note - I am a huge fan of Scholastic Scope magazine -especially when it comes to interesting, relevant informational material for my students.  Since the magazine content requires a subscription, I cannot share entire articles.  However, per permission from the wonderfully supportive editor of Scope Kristin Lewis, I can share bits of the articles to give you an idea of the content, and I can share resources or materials used (with a few exceptions). With this in mind, I've attached pages two and three of this wonderful article. 

At this point I will ask students to take out their text coding handout (given to them in the first unit earlier this year) and divide packets of post its at their table so each person has several. I will explain that we are going to listen to an audio reading of the article and record text codes on the post its (leaving them in the appropriate place) as we read.

Then, I will begin the audio of this article.  (Audio versions of Scope content is available on Scope's website for subscribers. With Kristin's help, I have included the audio of "I am Malala" here to allow you to try an sample of this wonderful resource.)  

After the reading, I will ask students to share some of their text coding, and I will share at least one of my own to model.  This will allow for good conversation about the piece.  Before sharing, I will remind students of SLANT, an acronym we used earlier in the year for small group discussion. I'll explain that the same considerations apply to large group discussion. (We'll add to this and work on more sophisticated discussions as we work thorugh the unit.)

Sit up

Look at the person talking

Act like you care

Nod your head in acknowlegement

Take turns speaking

Finally, (as a bonus because I know my students will want to actually see and hear Malala) we will watch a Daily Show video of host Jon Stewart interviewing Malala. This is a very good interview that allows students to see her as a young person they can relate to, but also the model of perseverance for our unit. 


Independent Work

10 minutes

At this point, I know what my students think collectively.  Now, I want them to work independently, so students will complete a multiple choice and short answer quiz  produced by scholastic to go with the article "Malala the Powerful".  

This task requires students to go back and use text evidence to determine the answers to the multiple choice questions, but even better requires them to USE text evidence in the short answer questions. I am eager to see how they do with this. It is really a "pre-assessment" that will allow me to gage where they are.

Their responses will be collected/graded/reviewed for my information and then returned a few days down the road for use with another lesson.  As we are out of class time today, this works out perfectly because I want to use these in a few days not now.

Please see my the lesson reflection below and a previous reflection about my choice to use multiple choice questions.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

To wrap up the lesson, I will ask students, "How many of you have chosen to read a nonfiction book from the library this year?" Then, I will ask students to consider why we tend to read more fiction than nonfiction from the library when there are great true stories to be told.  I will also point out that Malala's story is actually harder to believe than many of the popular fiction stories.

Finally, I will challenge them to read at least one narrative nonfiction book from the library before winter break.