Nonfiction Reading

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

We also talked a lot about nonfiction text features, and one of my favorite activities was the nonfiction text features sort.

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.

I then began working on teaching my students to find the main idea of a nonfiction passage.  We did several activities and graphic organizers on this, as well as a main idea task cards.

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.

I ended the unit with a focus on using context clues to identify unknown words, but I definitely believe in challenging nonfiction text students will also need specific vocabulary instruction.  (I’m really excited about some of the things I’m doing with vocabulary this year, and I’ll be sharing a few games soon:)

At over 100 pages, the unit ended up being much, much longer than I anticipated, but I feel that nonfiction reading instruction is essential for success.  I hope to share more ideas with you through pictures, and if you’re interested in checking out the entire unit on TpT, you can click on the link.



  1. says

    I have to tell you: I was a little hesitant to spend $10 on this… but I finally did and I am using it in so many ways! I teach gifted fifth graders, but I've been able to adapt so many things and I used the comparing and contrasting word sort with about 100 fifth graders on Thursday and it went so well. I've also been looking for main idea activities forever, and the cards are awesome! Worth every penny!

  2. says

    Mrs. Rouse, you are so welcome! I teach 3rd grade, and I used to teach 4th.

    Megan, thank you so much! You are so kind, and if you have any extra time I'd love feedback on my TpT store. I'm thrilled that this is working for your 5th graders too.

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