Moving to the Common Core this year has caused big change in our instruction. I’ve challenged myself to rethink how I teach non-fiction so that students gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the genre. For this reason, I reworked my reading and writing non-fiction units so that they are completely intertwined and cohesive. You’ll find those lessons that focused mainly on reading skills in the unit called, “All About Non-fiction” while those centered around writing skills in this unit called, “Informational Writing Project.”
In this sister unit, students apply what they’re learning about non-fiction text structures and features to their non-fiction writing. They’ll spend four weeks choosing, researching, and writing about the topics of their choice. Their completed projects will be a four-chapter book complete with text features. Most of the lessons included in this unit are ones that introduce a step in our writing process. While I’ve listed each as lasting one day, oftentimes each would carry over several days in my classroom. You decide what works best for your students and pace the lessons accordingly.
I have two classes. One moves at a fairly advanced pace while the other requires a little more processing time. While I originally planned to have both classes produce digital copies of their informational writing projects, only one was able to do so. Each step of the research and writing process took a little longer for the second class than it did for the first and because both had the same final due date, one class was able to participate in digital publishing while the other did it the old fashioned way. Today’s lesson is for that first class. Maybe this lesson is a better fit for your students because, like mine, they’re ready for the next challenge and you have the technology to support such a project. In either case, students can create a published piece they are proud to share.
Today is day two of four in the publishing process.
Before heading off to the lab, I remind students of our work yesterday on StoryJumper. I quickly go over the expectations for the day. With an extended chunk of time in the computer lab, it is my hope that students will make significant progress on their books. I explain that our goal for the day is to get as many pages typed as possible. We’re not concerned about adding features such as scenes or props. That will all come on our last day in the lab. With that, I ask students to pull our their Story Jumper log in sheets and their Informational Report Notebooks and we set off to work!
While students are working, I walk the room looking for those who need a little extra help. As always, I’m also on the look out for students who seem to really understand what they’re doing so that I can use them as examples in other classes. This student was kind enough to show how to add text boxes and manipulate them to maximize text.
At the end of our work time, we do a quick check in or as some call it, “status of the class.” I ask students to show me on their fingers the number of chapters they were able to finish today. I then explain that tomorrow’s focus will be on creating the covers for our book. We collect our supplies and head back to class.