Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time. This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.
Once students have a general idea of informative texts, we now move on to a few specific aspects so students can think about these aspects as it will relate to their final product, which is their Funky Elements Project. The lesson can be found here: Funky Element Project. These aspects are features, development, and conventions. We do not spend a large amount of time on each area since they have had exposure to these three aspects in the past. Instead, this direct instruction serves as a review of these features.
As students are reviewing the three slides of the Powerpoint that focuses on features, development, and conventions on either the iPads in the classroom or the personal devices, I refer back to the Funky Element Project students are working on. They are able to access this Powerpoint directly from my web-site, specifically the Funky Elements page. For each aspect, we discuss how they can apply these aspects to their projects.
The three main questions that come up are listed below.
When can we use certain graphic aids or illustrations?
How can we develop the topics we will be writing about?
What are some specific language do we want to use?
Direct instruction can be a very effective teaching practice. For me, the most effective practice when students are learning reading and writing concepts is working with these features in context. Seeing notes in a Powerpoint, Smartboard, etc. can only take a student so far. They need to see these in practice. Now, students will practice finding these features of informative text in an article they will read. They will be working on the skill of analyzing informative text writing through completing a close-reading of it. They will be able to look for the features of informative text writing.
First I have students read the article The High Price Of Cheap Fashion Page 1 independently. Students access the text through my web-site and there are also copies available if needed. In order for students to do a close-reading of any type of writing, they first need to read the text once on their own. It's very challenging for students to do a close-reading if they don't have a general understanding of what the text is about. Students read the article once the whole way through. I am circulating to make sure they are on track.
After they have read the article, I give them specific questions I would like them to answer based on the writing of the piece. These questions are part of the Informative Texts Powerpoint. The questions are projected onto the Smartboard from the Powerpoint, which is also accessible through my web-site for students using technology. As students re-read the article a second time on their own, they answer the questions below based on the article they just read:
These questions are answered in their notebook or their own devices. These questions that I created are directly connected to the objectives from the Common Core Standards relating to informative text. These questions highlight the major objectives students are expected to master as they analyze informative texts. During this time, I circulate around the room to offer assistance as needed.
With time remaining, students are allowed to share their responses in order to see how another student has been able to find these informative text features. Here is a clip of a student discussing finding the main idea in the article. This discussion came from the first question they needed to answer.