Teaching Informational Text in Three Easy Steps

Teaching informational text does not have to be scary.  I don’t know why teachers steer clear of informational text.  Maybe it’s the name. We could call it nonfiction or real or true. But like a rose, call it by any other name and it’s still informational text.

I admit the first type of book I grab is fiction. When I first learned that secondary students had to read informational text for state testing, I panicked.  Teaching and reading informational text calls for a different set of expectations. In fact, most informational text is written above the reading level of the majority of our students. But, over the years, I have developed methods that have helped to ease my students into informational text that I think will help your students adjust to a change in reading challenges and expectations.

A Tribute to Mothers- informational text

First, find a topic that interests you. Your interest will be contagious. If you like mysteries, find several mysteries and have your students work in groups to solve them. This type of engagement will give them ownership in the reading project, and soon it won’t be about reading boring, nonfiction, but it will become a quest.

The Old Mallory Place: Informational Text

And, remember that just because you like a particular passage, your students may not like it. Try having an engaging activity linked to the read. When you do, you are providing an opportunity for your students to become actively involved in the text, and they might realize that they like it.

The Old Mallory Place: Informational Text activities

Second, just in case your students don’t share your interest, offer them a selection.  Keep your selections short and high-interest.  A passage that is too long will be overwhelming and frustrating. Students that struggle with reading, often look at the number of pages or the length of a passage. Too many words on a page can be defeating.  It doesn’t hurt to have short passages with pictures or illustrations. Show them that informational text can be fun and easy to master.
April Showers: Learning how to read informational text

Third, tie an informational text passage to a literary piece. If you are reading a mystery, find informational text passages about something
mentioned in the mystery. In the picture below, the mystery involved
fog and an owl. The accompanying informational text passages are about
fog and owls. Use them during your fiction read to add depth of knowledge and to enhance the learning experience.
The Old Mallory Place: comparing fiction to nonfiction

You can also provide highlighters in fun colors for students to use when marking text, cute stickies for them to write notes on, or colorful paperclips to mark passages.

These “easy fixes” will help to make the transition from literary text to informational text less painful. For you and your students!

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