Tips, Titles and Tools for Teachers

Instructional Resources for Nonfiction

April 3, 2015

One of our goals is to have a 50/50 balance between fiction and informational texts in our reading workshop. I know you are always looking for engaging informational articles for your reading instruction, so this week's newsletter is devoted to resources and websites for informational text. If you are interested in blogs for book recommendations, you will love Nonfiction Detectives, which is written by two librarians from Maine, and A Year of Reading! I am more than willing to help you find informational texts for your reading mini lessons, reading groups or your science and social studies units of study!

Happy Reading!


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National Geographic in Reading Workshop

If you haven't used any of the editions of National Geographic Explorer we have in the book room with your reading groups, I highly recommend that you check them out!

Using the links below, you can access the Teacher's Guide for each issue of National Geographic Explorer from September 2009 to the current issue!

Teacher's Guide for the Pioneer editions. This edition is connected to standards for grades 2-3.

Teacher's Guide for the Pathfinder editions. This edition is connected to standards for grades 4-5.

The Teacher's Guide includes links for videos and other resources for each article in the edition. The guide includes recommendations for using the article to: Activate Prior Knowledge, Target Vocabulary, Explore Reading, Explore Writing, Explore Language and Explore Science. I've found the instructional ideas, as well as the graphic organizers, valuable for using these articles with reading groups!

Of course you can connect the articles to your science units, but you can also use them to engage students in reading more informational text! These articles can enhance your instruction on text features, text structures, main idea, author's purpose and vocabulary!

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I really think we should check this site out as a staff! There are many possibilities for using it during your reading or writing workshop! Take a minute to sign up for a free account.

I LOVE that:

  • you can change the reading level of each article to differentiate for your students.
  • if you click on the search icon, you can search by your grade level, as well as Common Core standards! You can align the articles to your instruction with vocabulary, text structures, and author's purpose, just to name a few!
  • if you highlight a line of text in an article, you can leave a note for your students.

I think you could use this site to:

  • differentiate reading articles for your reading groups connected to learning goals.
  • find articles related to your content area unit.
  • find articles for students to respond to in their writer's notebook to practice opinion writing.

These are just a few possibilities that come to mind!

It looks like you can create a binder of articles, as well as set up a class and assign articles to your students. This quick start guide may help you start exploring how you can use this site in your reading workshop!

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Wonderopolis is a wonderful site to use for your content studies. You can use the search bar to locate wonders connected to your units of study. You could also use the Wonder of the Day as a literacy station or as part of your writer's notebook options.

Here is a link to the Educator's Guide for using Wonderopolis. I love the idea of using Wonder Journals or incorporating an opportunity for your students to wonder in their writer's notebooks. You could also use the Wonder of the Day to launch a quick write in your writing workshop.

Mystery Science

Mystery Science is a great site to check out for your science units. You will need to sign up for a fee account to access all of the materials. The units and lessons are organized by grade level. Each time I return to the site I find more resources! They currently have materials for plants, animals, spaceship Earth and force and motion. There are many more topics coming soon!

Incorporating Nonfiction in your Reading Workshop

I loved this post by Franki Sibberson about making time for nonfiction read alouds. In her post, she includes a number of book recommendations! Franki is also one of the authors of my favorite book blog A Year of Reading.

I also enjoyed this post on the Nerdy Book Club blog about using paired texts (fiction and nonfiction) for ecology. One of my favorite examples is paring the book The One and Only Ivan with the informational text, Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla. There are many great ways to enhance your fiction read alouds with an informational text to build background knowledge or engage your readers.

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I love this quote that Valerie shared with me last week. I know that this staff is my most valuable resource! I have learned so much this year from the opportunity to collaborate with you. Thank you for welcoming me in your classrooms each week. I can't imagine working with a better group of teachers!

Shelly Moody

Instructional Coach

Grades 3-5

Williams Elementary