How many of us get excited to teach informational text? Our guess is not many. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! We’ve found that integrating an informational article or two within our literature units makes the units much more meaningful and encourages students to form deeper connections and analyze the novel/short story/poem more critically with their newfound information.
Assign ongoing articles for students to read that correlate with themes being studied in class over the course of a longer unit such as a class novel. We love using Newsela for leveled articles. However, the comprehension questions included on the site are often recall-based. Instead, we supply students with our Informational Text Reading Response Choice Board, which encourages deeper analysis. Students submit their responses to us periodically throughout the unit.
Include an informational text article in at least one of your Socratic Seminars for a particular unit. (Not familiar with Socratic Seminars? Read our post here!) For our Socratic Seminar for the short story “Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes, we had students read an informational article titled, “Study on Teen Boys in Poor Neighborhoods finds Surprising Result” that we got from Newsela. Here are some of the questions students discussed as part of the seminar:
- In your opinion, what is the author’s strongest piece of evidence he/she uses to support the claim? Why is it the strongest?
- What else would you like to learn about this topic? What in the text made you want to learn more information?
- Identify any connections between this article and “Thank You, M’am.”
Having students analyze the piece of literature in conjunction with the informational text article really strengthens the discussion and so many text connections are made. Students also help each other decipher the more difficult parts of the article.
Find a related informational article for the literature unit you are teaching, and use task cards specifically designed for informational text. Have students answer the questions in any of the following ways:
- Think Pair Share
- Small Group Discussion (we usually have our students create a visual display of their discussion)
Make use of graphic organizers to help students engage with the text in a meaningful way and deepen their critical thinking skills. We like to use these graphic organizers (pictured below) with our students. These have proven to be helpful in many settings – from individual informal assessments, to partner work, and more. There’s nothing better than graphic organizers that can be used over and over again in various ways!
Incorporating informational text in your lessons can be a powerful tool. We’d love to hear any other ways you analyze informational text in your classroom!