Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Problems and Possible Solutions in Non-Fiction Units



Over the last couple of weeks, I was able to participate in a district workshop with Teachers' College Staff developer, Kate Roberts and attend a TC workshop in New York on the non-fiction unit and argument writing given by Annie Taranto and Mary Ehrenworth.

Both of these days of professional were full of new ideas and strategies. I have tried to consolidate at least some of my notes into a chart of predictable problems and possible solutions, as students navigate non-fiction and summary writing.


Problem
Possible solution
Students do not recognize the main idea.
Try post its in order to have students sort and categorize more easily. Use one color for details and another for main ideas. One more color could be for the central idea.

Also, synonyms and lack of vocabulary may get in the way of students finding the main idea. Pay attention to whether students are understanding and knowing all of the key words.
Students struggle with the central idea.
Help students understand what we mean by parallel structure and help them develop parallel statements. That way, you can help them come up with an idea that you can take across structures
Students don’t recognize the voice or perspective within a non-fiction text.
Teach them to read closely the introduction and conclusion since those are places where perspectives tend to hang out.
Students miss the math component of the reading.
Non-fiction books frequently talk about percentages and statistics and some students need additional explanation.
Students are able to summarize but not interpret.
Have students read the selections with different lenses:
Technical v simple language
Vague v precise language
Overall tone or connotation
What information is included and what information is left out?
Students see themselves as experts after reading one article; they don’t see the need to explore other texts.
Create and be creative with text sets; Sharks could be a text set with dangerous animals.

*Also* TC has a great website for digital text sets where they have collected many articles, videos and books about specific topics. This is a great resource!

http://readingandwritingproject.com/resources/classroom-libraries/text-sets.html


As always, feedback is always welcome!


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