One of the toughest obstacles teachers face is planning reading for their students. We all know that organizing multiple groups at different reading levels can be challenging. It is also hard to find the right books for those students who may not have an interest in reading at all. On top of all that, your own school district is increasing accountability measures on standardized test scores and you are feeling the pressure of helping your students succeed. We are here to offer some amazing tips on how to make informational text engaging for you students. If students are engaged, learning will take place.
Informational text is always the most difficult type of text to read. Below, we have outlined steps that you can implement to help make informational text engaging for your students.
See Think Wonder
If you have not used this strategy yet, you should! We begin by taking an image from the informational text. We cover any words that are on the image that may give away the topic. Then we have students fill in the see think wonder chart. First, they write down what they see in the picture. They want to list colors, shapes, objects, textures and anything that their eyes visually see. Then, we move onto the “think” column. In this area, students write down what they think the text will be about. They use clues from what they see to determine an answer. The final column is “wonder.” This is where students write down questions they have about the image or about what the text may be about. We then go through each column as a class and reveal what the text will be about. This pre-reading strategy is a great way to get students engaged from the start. Click here to be able to access one through google drive for free.
Now that the students know the topic, we have them work on the first two columns of a KWL Chart. In the “K” column students list everything they know about the topic. This gets their brains working and thinking about the topic. IN the “W” column, students list what they want to know about the topic. Listing what they want to know also helps them focus on things they are curious about and may want to explore if the text does not cover their questions. The KWL strategy is great for engaging their minds around the topic. You can purchase our KWL chart here.
Most times you can find a video about the topic that the students will be reading about. If you subscribe to Scholastic News, they have videos about their main articles that can be accessed. If your school uses Safari Montage as a video provider, there is a huge database there too. YouTube is another source that can be used. Just make sure to preview the video before showing.
Re-visit KWL Chart
It is important to re-visit the KWL strategy when new learning occurs. After the video, allow students to add any new information that they learned, Also, make sure students use their KWL chart while reading as well.
Informational Text can follow many different text structures. It is important to identify the structure of the text to help students determine meaning. Whether it be compare and contrast, cause and effect, or problem and solution, students need to know the structure of the text so they can be successful readers. It is crucial that you discuss these text structures with your students and what to look for. We have informational text strategy cards that are available here for you to purchase.
Set the Purpose for Reading
Identifying the author’s purpose before reading is also important. Does the author want to persuade, inform, or entertain the reader? This helps the students know what to expect from the informational text. It provides a focus for them and allows them to read with a purpose. We have the below anchor chart and a Power Point slide show available for purchase here.
Read the Text
The obvious next step is to have the students read the text. You can decide as a teacher how you want to do this for the initial read. It could be alone, with a partner, in a small group, in a group with similar reading levels, or mixed abilities. Decide on how you want the students to learn from the text. It could be a graphic organizer based on the text structure such as a cause and effect chart. Or it could be notes students take regarding a focus question that you may provide. The point is to be able to read the text for meaning.
Re-Read the Text
It is always important to re-visit the text a second time and to dig deeper. We like to provide our students with highlighters or gel pens for this step. We then post a common core aligned question for them to answer. The key is for them to search for evidence to help support their answer. This is where the highlighters and gel pens come in handy. It makes it fun for them to use something other than a pencil.
Of course we want to know what our students learned and if they can effectively demonstrate proficiency in a standard. This is where we will have the students finish filling out the “L” portion of the “KWL” chart. We will also have the same common core question for them to answer, but now they have to take that evidence and support their answer. This is an important skill to teach as most standardized tests require students to cite evidence in their explanations.
No, you don’t have to throw a huge party. But it is important to celebrate your students’ achievements in reading. If the informational text was about an interesting topic, see if you can find a short video to show your class at the end. Or if there is a song about the topic,
maybe play that in class too. It is important to connect what your students are learning to the real world. Take some time to do that!
Be on the lookout for our next post on how to make literature engaging for students. You won’t want to miss our Guided Reading Bundle that is our top seller and contains over 40 engaging literature activities for you to use right away in your guided reading classroom. You can find it by clicking here.