Sunday, February 16, 2014

Changing Up Nonfiction

List seven nonfiction attributes? 
Look through this article and label the characteristics.
Cut out five attributes and explain what you learn from each trait. Design a poster.

I always have used our 5th grade Weekly Reader magazines as a focus as well as using Wonderopolis for articles to support content areas.  I have started to purchase a wider variety of nonfiction books for our class library.  I am excited about new series: Scientists in the Field series and I just found Smart Kids series.  The layout is amazing and focus on key vocabulary is perfect for several lessons.  My new favorite series. Check it out!  Below are some of our favorite books.  Thanks Franki and Mary Lee for several of these titles.  

When I get stuck in my teaching practices, I turn to twitter, blogs and professional books. I just finished reading Aimee Buckner’s book:  Nonfiction Notebooks: Strategies for Informational Writing.  As I read her book, I highlighted several key ideas and then went back to reread to pull out some key quotes.

            “If we don’t change our approach to writing, we’ll get the same kind of report we’ve always  gotten from our students.”  AMEN! And I am guilty…..

            “We can use the same approach…but the focus needs to be on relevant information.”

            “They need to research what they don’t know yet” AMEN and I am guilty again….

“…need to move students away from random fact collecting to systematic informational gathering” Do I need say it again?

Building on Aimee's  idea:  background + new information = higher learning. The first strategy that I am going to borrow from her book is:  TAKE A TOUR.  She begins with a strong lead “Museums are fascinating.”  I have a group of students this year who really benefit with a visual both with introducing a new topic and extending a topic.  I am going to twist her idea and make it my own. 

1)     I am going to ask my class to draw a picture in their writer’s notebook of something they believe they are an expert on and then write around the picture with short bullet points.
2)    Next each student will put 4 sticky notes on the side of their desk next to their open writer’s notebook.  The students are going to walk around the room and write questions on the sticky notes, so each student will have further areas of research.
3)    Then each student will use our class nonfiction resources or check out a book from the library to search for further answers to gain new knowledge of their topic.
4)    Finally I will have them verify their answers with a second source probably Internet sources and have them present their findings to the class.

I am excited about this new introduction to nonfiction instead of my typical three questions. How are you expanding your nonfiction lessons?  Leave me a comment.


  1. I love, love, LOVE this idea about the gallery walk with students leaving questions for their classmates. This will help them overcome the assumption that everyone else knows what they do about the topic, and it will also help students target new areas of research they may not have even thought of. Brilliant!

    1. Thanks Tara I agree with you I do think my students assume they know everything about their favorite topic. Hoping that friends will urge each other to explore more facts about their topic.

  2. Yes, I love the ideas in this blog post, but I also love the craft of it. Your voice is SO there! Your Amens and then your "Do I need to say it again?" crack me up! And remind me to tell you about the TED talk I watched that pertains to the way this is written.

    1. Your time stamp shows me how committed you are to your new routine! Congrats! Thanks for your comment I like this format connecting my new learning to my students this year. This group of students are extremely strong visual students.

  3. I love this idea! I love the collaborative element to this process. Students will be able to share their wonderings with each other, which will give the researchers a road map to start their research. I'm going to read part 2 post. Can't wait to hear how it goes with your students!