Friday, October 12, 2012

Determining Importance in Nonfiction

(I'm reposting this to K-2 in case anyone in K or 2 has some ideas to share :)

The question came up yesterday about helping students to understand what information needs to go in their piece about first grade. They have been gathering a lot of information, making lists, captions, labels, etc. but the next step would be to pair down the information. The homework idea about asking someone at home what they would want to know is one way to go about this, but if it doesn't go home until next week, it would be too late if they are ready now. Developmentally, it is too hard for your students to "imagine" what they think someone would want to know, so it needs to be much more concrete. 
Some ideas:

  • Shared writing: tell your students about something that you did and have them ask questions so that you know what they want to know. Make sure to list the questions that they ask. If you do this with a few different activities of your own, they will begin to see that they ask similar questions each time. 
  • Have them ask someone in school- either their buddy class, another teacher or a friend in another grade- to see what they would want to know.
  • As you read mentor texts and discuss determining importance, make sure to list the categories of important information included in the text. Again, they will begin to see the patterns.
  • Don't be afraid to give them specific categories to focus on if they need it! It is perfectly ok to say that each page needs to say: Something about the teacher for that class, the materials used, describe a few activities, etc.  You can decide as a class what 3-4 things need to be on each page and then they can come up with a few more independently. 
Do you have other ideas? Photos of charts or lists of questions your children came up with? Share them :)

Rethinking "Just Right Books"


It started when a 2nd grader picked out a Just Right book and when asked about his choice answered, "Well, it's the hardest (aka thickest, longest, chapter) book in the classroom."


This led to a conversation about breaking it down for children so they could speak about their Just Right books in more comprehensive ways and learn to appreciate the various qualities of the books that the teachers look at when they determine whether or not a book is Just Right for a student. 


Lesson 1 in 2B-- Why Do Readers Choose Books? 

  • Background:
    • In the poetry study, the students are focusing heavily on word choice, why poets choose specific words and how words how words help the reader to visualize the text
  • Goal:
    • Connect the idea of finding "juicy words" in poems to attending to the vocabulary and word choice in other forms of literature as well.
    • Teach children to speak about literature in terms of the words and vocabulary when deciding whether it is "Just Right."
    • Develop an appreciate for language in literature and an understanding that vocabulary may be more or less complex regardless of the "size" of the book. 
  • Minilesson:
    • Model finding interesting words/phrases in "Mathilda." Talk about why they are interesting, what they mean, etc.

  • Independent Work:
    • Make a list of "words you love" in your book.
Language from Amelia Bedelia that makes the book funny.
J=Juicy words (interesting) and SJ = Super Juicy (new vocabulary)
Interesting points that came out during conferences and the Share at the end...

  • Sometimes the words might not be that "juicy" or descriptive but there is something about the language that makes you like the book, such as how the play on words makes Amelia Bedelia so funny, or the rhythm of the words in a poem. 
  • Sometimes the words are really big and hard to read or hard to understand. There are ways to figure out what they mean. 
  • Sometimes the vocabulary makes the book to hard to read and enjoy. 
  • It's ok to decide that a book is not right based on the vocabulary or the words. 


The next step is to figure out how to chart their ideas and thoughts as conversations about language in books continue. Right now, we're thinking an infographic. 

More to come on follow up lessons... 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Record of Reading App

I read about this app in a Tweet and thought I would pass it along. I haven't tried it yet, but will post more when I take a closer look.