Friday, July 3, 2015

Book Club: Unit 4 Reading Nonfiction, Reading the World



(Click on the picture above to visit The Sunny Side of Second Grade with Mrs.Felts to read about Unit 1.)


Hi Everyone,
Have you ever noticed that nonfiction texts seem to be harder for students to comprehend than fiction? Well, this week I will be talking about "Unit Four: Reading Nonfiction, Reading the World" from Lucy Calkins'  A Curricular Plan for The Reading Workshop: Grade 2. Calkins gives excellent strategies for teachers that will help our little kiddos have a better handle on information text. Below are just a few of my favorite strategies from Unit Four.

Suggested Ways to Approach Nonfiction Texts


Setting Up the Nonfiction Library: Allowing Readers to Sift and Sort
  • Calkins begins this section by suggesting that teachers create an anticipatory set for the introduction of nonfiction. This is done by having texts that are related to science and social studies content. Then continue to explain to students that good readers read nonfiction to get "smarter." This is such a great "hook!" What a brilliant way to make students feel comfortable and successful because they already have background knowledge in these areas. 
Part One: Nonfiction Readers Read to Become Smarter about Our World and the Things in It
  • In this section of the unit, I love how Calkins points out that students need to understand text features and how text features assist  readers in understanding a given text. However, this is not an area where teachers and students should take long periods of instructional time on identifying text features and never actually read the passage. This is a very valid point. I want my students to understand the importance of text features, but actually reading and understanding how the text features help them comprehend is much more valuable.
Part Two: Nonfiction Readers See More Than the Text on the Page
  • My favorite part of this section is how good readers do more than just read the words from a nonfiction passage. Good Readers actively read the selection by thinking, asking, and responding to questions they have about the selection. Making connections to texts deepens students comprehension skills.Calkins' goes on to suggest that readers record their thoughts , questions, and responses to text by writing them on post it notes or a mini-pad and sharing/discussing with a partner. I love this idea! When students can write about a concept they understand and can apply it. Below are some posters I made that reminds students the different ways a reader can make connections to text. Click on the picture to download a copy for your classroom.

Part Three: Nonfiction Readers Tackle Tricky Words in Our Books
  • I agree with the author that word study is a very important part of reading. When students begin to read nonfiction they will encounter many unfamiliar words. It is imperative that I model during shared reading on how to "tackle" these unfamiliar words. Students need to be able to apply the word study skills in their own reading experiences. 
Part Four: Nonfiction Readers Can Read More Than One Book about a Topic to Compare and Contrast
  •  This last section is about how students work in collaborative groups to study a subject using several texts and then comparing and contrasting the material. I agree that "book clubs" are a great way for students to research or learn more about a topic by collaboratively selecting  books. The best part is that students, without realizing it, discover the real purpose for reading nonfiction. Also, students are developing their higher order thinking skills by comparing and contrasting information. This allows students to take information from several books and combine the ideas for a given subject. This is such a "Win - Win Situation!" Below are two interactive notebook templates I created for students to use while reading: Compare and Contrast Information and Question, Response, Discuss. Click on the pictures to download these freebies.


"Unit Four" gave me a great action plan that will assist me in fostering my students' reading abilities this coming school year. I hope you found my review of  this section useful and I can't wait until we read the next section!

Be sure to tune on July 6 as Nicole from Sprouting in Second Grade will be discussing Unit 5.