NAVIGATING NONFICTION TEXT
In the ELA classroom, there are plenty of resources at a range of reading levels from which to choose. But in the content areas – Science, Social Studies, Health, etc. – there are often limited reading choices.
Informational text is difficult for many readers. Density of information, unfamiliar concepts, technical vocabulary and unique text structures and page layouts make nonfiction more challenging than narrative text. Add to that the fact that textbooks are often written at least two levels higher than the grade for which they’re designed! That’s why we need to give the students a repertoire of tools for accessing difficult informational text, as well as other forms of nonfiction.
Nonfiction reading requires all the strategies needed for fiction reading – and more. Although HIP publishes only novels, we recognize the importance of nonfiction reading. That’s why we include a nonfiction article in every teacher’s guide to complement the content of the novel and activate background knowledge.
HIP Teacher’s Guides may be purchased individually or as part of a discounted collection. Teacher’s Guides are offered free with the purchase of six or more copies of a single title.
Get HIP to Nonfiction: A Quick and Easy Previewing Strategy
Nonfiction text is usually full of dense information and unfamiliar concepts. PREVIEWING the text helps students get an overview of the content, determine what’s important in the reading, and get their brains ready to read (in other words, taking a stance as a reader).
An easy previewing strategy is to look at the Headings (subtitles), Introduction (or opening paragraph) and Pictures (images, charts and tables) in the section of text.
MAPPING THE PAGE
Navigating nonlinear text can be challenging for readers because it is not intended to be read top to bottom and left to right. Mapping the page teaches them to highlight every chunk of information to ensure that they don’t miss key details.
1. Provide an infographic or other piece of visual text, such as the example on the right. Ask students to identify where the key information is found. Use a model such as the Mapping the Page Powerpoint to demonstrate how to draw circles, boxes or other shapes around chunks of information. Talk with students about the highlighted information:
- What different formats does the information take?
- Where are the different chunks of information on the page?
- Do the visuals repeat, extend or tell different information than the text?
- Which chunks of information do you notice first? Next? Do you think it’s the most important information?
- Was there any information you didn’t notice on the first reading?
- How did the visual features influence the order in which you read the information?.
2. Provide students with their own copies of an infographic. Have them clip a piece of acetate (such as an overhead transparency) to the page and use skinny markers to draw circles, boxes or other shapes around each chunk of information.
3. You might have students check off each shape on the acetate as they read each section. Older students might be asked to write a one-sentence summary in each shape.
CHUNK AND CHEW
Chunking is a process of breaking up information into manageable segments. When students have opportunities to pause and process chunks of information, they are more likely to understand it more deeply. You can read more about this strategy in this article Chunk and Chew: Giving Learners Processing Time.
Although this strategy is generally applied to explicit teaching, it can also be used with reading. Teach students to Chunk and Chew by giving them small bits of text to read, then providing a minute or two to reflect or “chew on” the information. Model the strategy by displaying short sections of text and thinking aloud to summarize or note key ideas. Provide guided practice by displaying chunks of text and having students talk to a partner what they remember or learned. Ultimately, students should be able to chunk their own reading and monitor their own comprehension.
Research shows readers remember and comprehend better when they write about their reading. Add a writing component by having students STOP & JOT. When they pause after reading a chunk of information, they jot a few notes about what they’ve learned.