Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wrapping up nonfiction

We're getting ready to finish our introduction to nonfiction unit. I'm looking forward to a short poetry unit before plowing forward into text structure. Here are some things that I've added to my nonfiction teaching over the past two months.

End of Unit Reflection
For my reading classes, each student has a folder that stays in the classroom. This helps to keep everyone organized from day-to-day. However, these folders can get very full by the end of a unit! This year, I've started doing an end of unit reflection page before we clean out our folders. As students fill in the blanks on the reflection page, they reflect both on the content of the unit and on the reading skills that we've worked on. It's a nice but low-key way to add some closure to the unit and send home all of the classwork that we have accomplished.

Firsthand accounts
This year I jumped into looking at the differences between firsthand and secondhand accounts. How interesting! Luckily, when learning about Antarctica, great firsthand accounts are easy to find. We started by looking at the LTER blog. This year's author has an easy, kid-friendly style. Kids were excited to see such recent blog posts! As we read the projected blog on the screen, I experimented a bit to see how kids were processing the text.
-How do we know that this is a firsthand account?
-Can we figure out the author's attitude toward the events? Which words convey her feelings?
-How do the pictures add to the information?
We also played around a bit with how to navigate a blog and what all the different links mean. Overall, this part of the class was successful and I felt as if starting with a blog was a good idea.

Then they moved on to reading a firsthand account, "The Chilling Fields", a story about a fire aboard the Aurora Australis. This text is a little harder for them, and they are having some trouble piecing together what happened. I'm listening in on their conversations to help me figure out how to adapt the process of reading and thinking about a firsthand account to younger readers. Tomorrow they'll be looking closely at word choice to figure out the author's attitude toward the events. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

I am working on a sheet to guide readers through the process...write to me if you'd like a copy! It's still very much in its early stages.

Vocabulary quizzes
I'm still experimenting with this. You may be familiar with the weekly homework packets that I've been making. This year, I'm adding a vocabulary quiz to try to boost student accountability. I like the quizzes in that they are increasing word consciousness and helping students to pay more attention to vocabulary activities that we do together. You can find the winter homework packets here. Topics include polar bears and penguins, the LTER cruise, birds at a birdfeeder, and the flu!

Looking forward to poetry
I can't wait to start poetry. In the past, I've gone right from this introductory nonfiction unit to text structure. I think that poetry will be a fantastic break for us and a nice way to look at very different texts.

1 comment:

  1. I love teaching poetry in between longer writing units. I have my own poetry blog that I use for teaching poetry and I always create a challenge for April Poetry writing month.
    I am so glad I found your blog on Fourth Grade Friends.