Nonfiction vs Fiction - What's the Difference?

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Objective

SWBAT...compare and contrast narrative fiction books and informational nonfiction books to determine the ways they are similar and different.

Big Idea

Fiction is written for entertainment; nonfiction is written to inform.

Creating the Purpose

5 minutes

I share in this video the big idea of this narrative unit and my focus for lessons and student writing goals:

 

Here's a video of why I chose the selection of titles and what I am looking for from students:

I open the lesson with a pile of books and hold up two of different genres.

I ask students what is similar about these books? I use two books that are familiar to them from previous lessons so more can connect with the lesson introduction. I take responses. I then ask what is different about these books? Again take answers. (SL 5.1c)

I ask what genre each of the books are to introduce them to this train of thought when they evaluate the other books on their tables. I take responses (SL 5.1c). I expect the students to know that the first example is "fiction", but not to come up with the word "narrative", and that the second is "nonfiction" but not to come up with "informational", which are two of the vocabulary terms I want to address in this lesson, so I reviewed these terms with students aloud (L.5.6).

Then I introduce that the first example is a fictional narrative because it tells a fictional story of a girl from the author's perspective (Mighty Miss Malone) and the second example is a nonfiction informative book because it provides information to the readers about another girl (Anne Frank) from a factual perspective (RL 5.9)

I then introduce the objective - students will use compare/ contrast using a chart to identify characteristics of nonfiction informative and fiction narrative text (RL 5.9). 

Group Activity

30 minutes

Table groups are each given a stack of books and a chart paper that is divided into characteristics of information and narrative texts. I review the steps for the activity and write them on the whiteboard for reference. They are informed that they will first need to review the books to determine which are fiction and which are nonfiction. They will then  need to discuss in their groups what characteristics they see in each of the narrative text that are similar. They add these to their charts. Then they do the same for the informational and add them to the chart. They are looking for key words/ text features/ punctuation/ text format/ chapter headings and other clues that identify each type of book (W 5.5).

I model how to do this with the first books I used for the previous class example. I think aloud that the books are similar on the covers because they both show girls who are about the same age and smiling. I continue sharing that I can see that the pictures on the informational text is a photo, whereas the pictures on the narrative text is a drawing. I add this to the class chart. I take questions asking students what else they see about the two books that is different. I expect students to notice that the narrative has an author and illustrator listed and the informational doesn't - we search and find the photo credits section and the authors. I add this to the chart. I take a few more responses and add them to the chart (RL 5.9, W 5.9, SL 5.4, RL 5.7).

Then I plan to release them to begin the activity and complete the Comparing Informational and Narrative Text Chart (SL 5.4, RL 5.9, W 5.9, RL 5.7). I monitor and watch as they share their reasoning. I expect that I will need to encourage some students to look for more details because they may stop too quickly and not get into the deeper differences such as the wording, or the maps, or additional informative sections. Some students will even have to be reminded to list that narratives have dialogue between characters and informational has dialogue with the readers. 

Learning about the different types of writing will help them in the following lessons in this Narrative Unit because it exposes them to the types of writing they can complete and to the descriptive writing that good authors use. 

Writing About the Learning

15 minutes

We now end with a group share of their responses.

I then ask students How is narrative meant to affect the readers? and How is informative meant to be used by the readers? Which do you think is more difficult to write - why? Students share their answers and explanations (SL 5.1c). 

We close by sharing that we are going to be learning in this unit to write narrative fiction or realistic fiction stories because that's their favorite writing style - always had this unit planned but it's nice to let them think they had a choice in the matter because it gives them more buy-in. I show them a story titled "Silent Hill" that was written by my class in the previous year and share the first section of it aloud. I ask what type of reading it is - fiction or nonfiction? And then challenge their learning by asking is it Narrative or Informational? They nailed it as narrative! (SL 5.2)

No time left to read the next pages but I leave the copy of the text in the library for them tom read at their independent reading times. It is a good example for them to reflect on because they can connect with the age of the authors and get an idea of the final writing expectations for the unit (RL 5.2).