Posts Tagged ‘informational text’
As a Mom, I feel like the most over-used word in my vocabulary is “No” — followed closely by “Don’t.” I get tired of hearing myself say them, so I can imagine how weary my daughter is of listening to them. I’m sure its true for teachers, too.
Our job as parents and educators is to guide our children and help them make good choices. There is no way to eliminate “no” and “don’t” from our vocabulary, but it would be nice not to hear them so often. It would be nice to have an assistant to help with the teaching. That’s where books — especially picture books — come in handy.
There is no shortage of children’s picture books with stories whose intended purposes are to teach a specific lesson, whether it is the ABCs of friendship or the XYZs of potty training. There is a book for just about anything we want to help a young child understand. The hard part is finding a book that gets the message across without beating the theme to death.
In books like No, David!
By David Shannon and No Biting!
By Karen Katz — both personal favorites — the lessons and expected behaviors are explicit.
Sometimes, though, it’s better to let the kids glean the lessons from the story and/or its illustrations. What’s With This Room?
by Tom Lichtenheld
is another example of the kind of book helps children learn by observing the wrong way to do things. How can this help the “no”-weary parent or teacher?
- You aren’t the one saying “No.” Even though [name your character] says the exact same thing you do about being sloppy, kids will believe him or her first.
- The kids don’t hear “No.” The listener or young reader is looking at what happens and thinking about what’s going on. They are exploring the story by anticipating events or their consequences.
- Laughter can lighten the mood. Most of the time, these stories the events and consequences are exaggerated to make sure the lessons aren’t missed.
Last but not least … the kids feel superior to the character! That little ego boost might just help their self-esteem and confidence enough to “act on” the message. The other plus is that they empathize with the characters and can suggest ways to make things better.
Often kids see themselves in the book character, but they don’t see themselves AS the book character. Because you are talking about a “third person,” you’ve eliminated the pressure your students may feel about the topic at hand.
In the child’s mind, you’ve separated the behavior from him or her, so he or she might be more interested in talking about choices and consequences.
Children’s book illustrators are an incredibly talented bunch. They often have secondary activities that aren’t directly related to the text in their illustrations. We have found stories that are just fun to read that have no specific lesson at all, but which end up being stories where we can talk about behaviors.
For example, several years ago while I was reading the words about spending the day at the beach, my five-year-old was dissecting the illustration, talking about the child pouring sand over another child’s head. I hadn’t picked the book for “teaching,” but a lesson was hiding in plain view … and I wasn’t the one who pointed out what was “wrong.”
Do you have any favorite life lesson books that you’d recommend to other teachers and parents?
After my last post where I explained how my students created flip books to illustrate the various text and graphic features of informational texts, I was excited to see that Rourke Educational Media is the publisher spotlight of this week! They have some amazing informational resources that I look forward to sharing with my students this week.
Here are only a few of the high interest informational texts they provide.
American Coins and Bills
Arctic Appetizers: Studying Food Webs in the Arctic
Landing at Ellis Island
The White House
And they have bilingual texts as well! This is a great resource for me as I have many bilingual and ELL students in my classroom.
¡Barcos! ¡Barcos! ¡Barcos! (Boats! Boats! Boats!) (Mis Primeros Descubrimientos)
But it’s their encyclopedias that really caught my eye. They are top notch.
There are 9 Volumes in this series of Science Encyclopedias. There’s a set in English and one in Spanish.
Rourke’s World of Science Encyclopedia, Volume 1: Human Life
Descubre el mundo de las ciencia Enciclopedia (Rourke’s World of Science Encyclopedia) Volume 1
There are 14 Volumes of Encyclopedias focusing on the History of Our Presidents.
Rourke’s Complete History of Our Presidents Encyclopedia, Volume 13
And a set focusing on Native American History and Culture. (10 Volumes)
Rourke’s Native American History and Culture Encyclopedia, Volume 1
These encyclopedias are beautifully laid out and offer great examples of everything from headings and captions to illustrations and diagrams, things we teach our students to look for and study before and during their reading of informational text.
Today, I plan to show my students some of these pages using my computer’s projector as a way to discuss yesterday’s inauguration of President Obama and as a culminating activity to the text and graphic features we have been studying. I know students will be captivated by the digital format of these encyclopedias.
If you haven’t already, please check out this wonderful collection of Rourke Encyclopedias and Informational Texts. There is surely something for every class!
Flip books are fun to make and to read. This past week my students made great flip books to help illustrate their understanding of informational text features. We focused on what to look for as we pre-read informational texts through a picture walk and text walk.
Here is what my students created:
If you are interested in how to make a flip book, here are the directions:
- Get 3-4 sheets of paper. (For this project, we used 4 sheets.)
- Fan out the paper to about 1/2 inch or the width of a finger.
- Keeping the papers lined up, carefully fold so that the fanning meets and you have the desired number of tabs for your book.
- Saddle staple on the fold or staple at the edge.
Notice the flip books we created are cut up the middle to create a t-chart. (We did not cut the outside paper which creates the cover, though.) The students used only one color so that they had to find and use a variety of media to create interest and also to differentiate among the title and headings.
Inside the flip book, students glued examples of each of the text and graphic features. This took a long time, but it was a great exercise. The students discussed the features as they looked through old magazines, searching for something that would add to their flip books. If they couldn’t find something to cut out, they found something to photocopy in one of the many resources we have in the room.
Here is a flip book opened:
These books are so much fun to create! You can use them for just about any subject area or purpose and I encourage you to try making one with your students.
Creating a flip book to focus in on textural features was a great way for my students to show their understanding of the variety of features. They were asking great questions, sharing ideas and enjoying their time while they worked.
This is an updated version of a post I wrote for the PBS Parents blog Booklights as part of my “Bookworm Basics” series. The original article appeared in July 2010. Although geared toward parents, teachers and librarians may find these posts valuable as hand-outs on back-to-school nights or for sharing in parent-teacher conferences, or even on their classroom blogs!
When I was growing up, my brothers and I shared a set of World Book encyclopedias. Remember them? By Grad School we were all relying on Microsoft Encarta … 20+ volumes condensed to a pair of compact discs (CDs).
Now, you don’t even need that! Data reliability not withstanding, anything you want to know about can be found with just a few clicks of the keyboard. My now 10-year-old thinks that every answer in the Universe comes from a computer screen. I love to surf the Net as much as the next person, and I have been known to send a query into the Interwebs when a question pops into my mind.
That said, I still love having a reference book close by. There is something fun about turning pages to find things. Holding a picture of a big hairy spider is completely different than staring at one on the screen. You can’t put a price on “ew, yuck!”
Hands-on exploring is also more likely to lead to new discoveries – and more concrete recognition – than following a search path on the Worldwide Web. That’s why its helpful to have books that have answers close at hand, for homework and recreational learning alike.
Here are several references are important to your child’s bookshelf that will grow with them as they learn. First you’ll be guiding them, but soon they’ll be finding things – and randomly exploring images – by themselves.
An illustrated dictionary
Pictures and large fonts make an illustrated dictionary an accessible tool for elementary-aged students. Because of their versatility, dictionaries are natural first research books for emerging and newly independent readers alike.
Not long after readers start putting words together, they learn how to sort them alphabetically. As readers become more experienced and their content learning expands, the dictionary will also help them find the meaning of words, as well as learn parts of speech, word origins, and pronunciation, too.
A Big Book of Answers
Although we may not need (or have room for) that 20-volume set of books anymore, kids still have lots of questions. It’s nice to have a go-to reference that covers the basics of the history, science, geography, and social studies they will be learning about in those early elementary years.
Even when school’s not in session, that one-volume illustrated encyclopedia can answer basic questions or whet their appetite to learn more and lead them to other subject-specific nonfiction books. Many books often have links to additional tools that go with the particular product at the back.
Mapping the World: An Atlas
As early as first grade students are learning about the world around them. Sometimes its as simple as knowing where a place is (or was) on a map, and sometimes its about the culture.
A multi-faceted atlas or gazetteer not only has maps with geographic boundaries and terrain features, but also adds context to who the people are, their cultural identity, and political features.
Illustrated reference books are designed for exploring. Because there is no worry about reading everything cover to cover, your kids may be more likely to pick up the book “just because.” They can start with an idea and begin research or just pick a page and go.
Having a reference book handy is also a great way to encourage kids to find the answer themselves, rather than ask you to define a word, tell them if there really is a Transylvania, etc. Just watch out for spiders!
World Book photo by TreeWhisperer on Flickr.
The cover images for the encyclopedia and dictionary link to the Cybils affiliate via Amazon.com; the atlas links to the Reading Tub affiliate. Purchases made through these links may benefit the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Awards program or The Reading Tub. They are provided for convenience only and do not constitute a purchase requirement or recommendation.
Wolf Pack of the Winisk River
written by Paul Brown
illustrated by Robert Kakegamic
Lobster Press, 2009
audience: upper elementary and Middle Grade
AR Book Level: 6.8
This is a novel in verse that has tons of factual information about wolves. Readers join this pack of timber wolves as it travels 200 miles in the northern Ontario wilderness tracking down their favorite prey, the woodland caribou. Here on the Winisk River, a harsh winter and scarce food supply made their annual trek extremely difficult.
This is, first and foremost, a story about a pack of Gray Wolves who are making their annual 200 mile trek along the Winisk River.
There is a second story – almost subliminal – that focuses on the global struggle of dealing with environment, habitat, and wildlife. The author has interwoven the two themes and helps the reader appreciate the complexity of the problem and the seriousness of the issues.
A Reader’s Thoughts
- Paul Brown tells great stories, especially animal stories. Wolf Pack of the Winisk River is a remarkable animal story. (Link takes you to the book on BigUniverse.com.)
- The book is superbly illustrated by native artist, Robert Kakegamic.
- Wolf Pack is well- written, informative, and worthwhile story about wolves, habitat, and environment.
- Once the cover is opened, the pages will hold the reader’s attention to the end.
Click here to see other reviews of Lobster Press books on BigUniverse.com.
* “Dormant reader” and “underground reader” are descriptive terms coined by author / educator Donalyn Miller, aka The Book Whisperer. As an advocate for reading as a positive experience, I prefer these glass-half-full terms in describing young readers. You can learn more about the definitions in Donalyn’s slim but idea-packed book The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child.
December 7th is a day that stands out in US History. Do you know why? Do your students know?
On Big Universe Learning, I found World War II by Lisa Zamosky and Wendy Conklin. This book is one of the Primary Source Readers from Teacher Created Materials Publishing. This book starts off talking about December 7, 1941 (that is actually the beginning of the first sentence) in a section called ” Secret Missions and Superbombs.” This book contains great pictures, captions, news articles, famous leaders, symbols, and extra information to help answer questions and fill in the gaps. You could work on lots of nonfiction characteristics using this book as well.
Here are some great resources that could be used along with this book:
- From PBS: Freedom: A History of US: Pearl Harbor is part of the excellent PBS site based on Joy Hakim’s A History of US,this focuses on the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and the ramifications of the attack. You can access primary sources andphotographs to bring this part of American history come alive.
- From The War Times Journal: Pearl Harbor Animated Maps presents animated Pearl Harbor maps that provide an overview of the areas that were attacked and the actual action that took place.
- From Scholastic: Relive the Experience Pearl Harbor includes an eyewitness account, timeline, glossary, related web links, and even a teacher’s guide.
- From ThinkQuest: The Pearl Harbor Story shares a very detailed description of the events leading up to the war, the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the outcome. Be sure to check the interactive map and the survivor and eye witness accounts. The site also provides great animated photos.
- From Calisphere: Pearl Harbor includes a broad selection of images featuring Japanese-Americans during World War II can be found on this site by Calisphere. By clicking on individual images you’ll find high quality photographs and image information.
- From Scholastic: Our America: World War II is a way to learn about World War II and the American home front through diaries, interviews with those lived through these times, and writing about what you’ve learned.
- From EDSITEment: Turning the Tide in the Pacific 1941-1943 includes activity sheets, student resources, and media, (This from the We The People program: We the People is an NEH program designed to encourage and enhance the teaching, study, and understanding of American history, culture, and democratic principles. )
- From National Geographic Education: A Date That Will Live in Infamy includes the article and vocabulary. There are also links for further exploration (audio, video, interactives, websites) Grades 5-12
- From National Geographic Society: Remembering Pearl Harbor ~ Multimedia Map and Time Line includes articles, images, audio, and places for more information.
- From National Geographic Expeditions: The Legacy of Pearl Harbor includes lesson plan and related links. Grades 3-5
- From ReadWriteThink: Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese in 1941 includes event description, classroom activity/questions, websites, and related resources. This activity really caught my attention:
- On December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy” in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, many Americans were called upon to act as
heroes. Countless Americans gave their lives in defense of our country and its citizens in Pearl Harbor. Similarly, the surprise attacks on
America on September 11, 2001, called for heroic acts of selflessness from ordinary citizens, as well as firemen, police, military personnel,
and other government workers. Ask students to compare these two events using the interactive Venn Diagram. How are they alike? How are they different?How did each event change American citizens’ perspectives on war and the need for war? How did the two different Presidents of the United States
react? What was different about the media coverage?
Bellwether publishers will quickly become a favorite of 2nd and 3rd graders studying simple machines. These Level 4 Blastoff Readers contain full color images, labeled diagrams, captions, bold vocabulary words, fun facts, a glossary, and websites to learn more information. These books are perfect for reinforcing the use of text features and research skills. Titles offered on Big Universe include:
One of my favorite stories involving simple machines is The 3 Pigs and the Scientific Wolf by Mary Fetzner. In the past, I’ve rewritten the book as a reader’s theater script and had the students create masks and costumes to act it out. This story is perfect for demonstrating the use of simple machines with an added bonus of humor.
Here are a couple of lessons using this book (Lessons can be modified for younger students):
Machines and Work Across the Ages (Grades 6-8)
Solving Problems Using Simple Machines (Grade 5)
Keisa Williams (aka Ms. K) is a K-5 School Librarian at Monarch Academy, a public charter school in Oakland, CA. She is certified in secondary and elementary education (MLIS and MEd) and loves collaborating with teachers and integrating technology into her teaching. She considers herself a “Technology Diva” and “Gadget Junkie”.
Who can resist the magic of a train? Saturday, May 8, 2010, is the third annual National Train Day. This is a day to celebrate America’s love of trains. There will be free nationwide events happening all over the country. If you are not able to attend, host your own National Train Day event using these helpful resources.
Check out Bellwether Publishing’s Bullet Train on Big Universe. This book is great for reinforcing text features: table of contents, headings, bold words, visual aids, glossary, & index.
On the Valdez Middle School Language Arts website , there are several resources to promote Informational Text reading comprehension skills. Use the “Unlocking the Mysteries of Informational Materials” PowerPoint to introduce or review text features. Then use the “Text Features PowerPoint (pdf)” to model the use of text features and move into a “Text Features Scavenger Hunt” included in this document.
Keisa Williams (aka Ms. K) is a K-5 School Librarian at Monarch Academy, a public charter school in Oakland, CA. She is certified in secondary and elementary education (MLIS and MEd) and loves collaborating with teachers and integrating technology into her library lessons. She considers herself a “Technology Diva” and “Gadget Junkie”.