Nonfiction Elements

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Students will be able to use the nonfiction elements to prepare for reading a nonfiction article.

Big Idea

How do we set up our brains for nonfiction?

Advanced Organizer

7 minutes

To help students bridge their learning from yesterday and to prepare them for today, I will have them brainstorm a list of text features they see in nonfiction text.  I will have the students work with their shoulder partners to do this part.  By conversing about the text features with another student they may be able to recall more than if they were just working on their own. I'll allow them three minutes, enough time to create a list, and push themselves to think of as many as possible, but not too much time that allows them to get off task. 

Next, I'll ask students to report out and create a large list of their Brainstorm responses on the board.  This will allow me the opportunity to clarify any features they are not familiar with and need a visual.  I use a Social Studies text book to demonstrate any features I need to feature. 

Finally, I'll ask the students why they think these features are important and lead a discussion on the importance these features have on our reading and comprehending of the text.

Nonfiction text features are very often overlooked when reading.  Most students do not use them as they should be used and can miss out on important details or information that will deepen their understanding. 


20 minutes

Once the students realize how easy it is to use the features and how the features really enhance the reading and understanding, I am hoping they make it a habit. 

To practice this skill, I will pass out an article.  I like to use articles that are really engaging and of interest to the students.  One place I go to for articles is Scope Magazine.  The articles in the magazine are extremely well written and of high interest.  The students really enjoy reading them. 

Scope magazine allows you to access the articles on-line and project them so the entire class can view the article.  It also has options for you to listen to the article being read aloud.  The on-line also allows you to access any activities that go along with the article.  I subscribe to the magazine, so I am able to have an issue for every student in the classroom. 

I pass out the article to each student and have them open to the first page of the activity.  I want the students to use their knowledge of the features and apply the skill to this article. 

The article I am using is titled "Fighting the Invisible Killers." This article is about a young girl who overcomes a very dangerous virus.

To begin, I will ask students to work on the Before Reading handout.  I will have the students work with a partner to complete the answers to the questions.  This will get the students engaged and working with the text and the nonfiction text features. 

As the students are working, I will circulate the room and help any struggling students.  Finally, after about 15 minutes, we will discuss their responses.  I like to project the handout onto the board and complete it as if I were doing it for the first time.  This allows the students a chance to correct their work and to see how I think through the features.  This also sets a purpose for the reading we will do next.

Guided Practice

25 minutes

The next step in this activity that I want students to do is to read through the questions on the During Reading page.  This will help them understand what we will be looking for when reading, and what skills are important to focus on when reading nonfiction. 

Then, I will read the text aloud with the students.  As we read, I will encourage the students to annotate the text, making marks on anything they feel is important.  This will show me how they identify important details in nonfiction vs. fiction. 

As we read, I will stop often to work through the "During Reading" questions.  It is important to point out how the questions help us understand the structure and purpose of the text. 

I will read through the entire text with the students.  Once we have finished the reading, I like to always give the students a chance to discuss their initial reaction to the text.  I ask the students to respond to the following questions:  "What stood out to you from the text?" "What do you think was the author's purpose for writing the article?" 

I will have the students reflect and then do a Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up to share their responses. 


15 minutes

Finally, when working with nonfiction text, the students need to know how to summarize it.  Summarizing is an important skill and one that the students have been working on since early on.  This isn't anything new, but a good refresher and helps them connect the concept of what is important to know to this lesson. 

In the last activity, the students are asked to read a summary written for the text.  Then, they are asked to cross out any details that are not important and do not need to be in the summary.  The students LOVE critiquing others' work, so this part of the lesson they really get into. 

I will read through the summary aloud with the students and then ask them what is needed to make a good summary.  We will discuss the elements of a good summary, stressing how a good summary only has the most important details.  Often, students will just retell a story when asked to give a summary. 

To motivate the students, I will pass out red pens and have them become the editors and work through eliminating text that is not important.  I will also pass out the After Reading activity. 

Finally, if time allows, I will go through this with them as a class.  Again, I like to have the students come up to the board and demonstrate their work.  I can project the summary onto the board and have the students cross out what is not important. 


5 minutes

It is important that the students understand the key features when it comes to nonfiction text.  I want the students to not only know the different text features, but to be able to apply them and make it a habit to use the features to help them gain understanding of the text. 

To review today, I will ask the students to complete a Closure Slip that will allow them a chance to process their learning and also allow me to gain an assessment of their understanding.