I have a wonderful group of students this year, so I was shocked to see just how much they struggled with science and social studies. It felt as if no matter how many projects, experiments, and activities we did my students still had an extremely difficult time with any traditional pencil/paper assignments. After a lot of thought and collaboration with other teachers, I finally realized that the trouble wasn't with the content area-it was that my students did not have strong nonfiction reading skills and strategies. I shifted gears and began to think as a reading teacher and began compiling ideas to create a nonfiction reading unit. I used the Common Core Standards as my guide and eventually created an entire unit on nonfiction reading. After using these lessons with my students for several weeks now, I have seen a dramatic improvement in their nonfiction reading skills.
I started out with several lessons on what is nonfiction
I've also started using anticipation guides for prereading questioning, which you can read more about here. We started focusing on types of questions, which I never really realized was such a challenge for students until I began this unit.
The next focus of the unit was on text structure, which will really be useful when we get to move into nonfiction writing. We focused primarily on sequencing, cause and effect, and comparing and contrasting. We had posters, graphic organizers, and other activities for each of these text structures.