KinderGals: How To Use Guided Reading to Teach Nonficiton Features

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How To Use Guided Reading to Teach Nonficiton Features

While we do teach a unit on Nonfiction Features during our Reader's Workshop, we found that our kids needed more consistent practice to truly apply and use the features as readers and writers. This post shares how we use guided reading to teach the nonfiction features in a systematic approach.
Guided Reading
Most of the time during guided reading lessons we are using our running records to group kids by their reading level to deliver instruction at their instructional level. But, about once a week we do things a little differently.  Here's what we wanted:
  • We wanted to give our kids a very systematic approach to learning the nonfiction features and to explore how readers use them to collect information thus improving comprehension of nonfiction text.
  • We wanted our kids to be able to apply the nonfiction features in their own writing.
  • We wanted to make a connection between our science and social studies content and reading and writing.
  • We wanted of our kids to have exposure to the same nonfiction features and to the same content.
A Guided Reading Lesson
Here's a sample of a lesson.
Familiar Read Warm Up
First thing we do is a warm up. I give them whatever nonfiction book we used last week. The kids ready independently as I listen in or do running records. You might be wondering if all of the kids are reading the SAME book? I did say that I wanted them to read about the same topics and practice the same nonfiction features.  Since I wrote these books myself, here's what I did.
First, I picked 5 titles for each month. These are the titles from the February Unit.
Then, I used the same photographs and the same nonfiction features, I just changed the level of the text.  My goal here wasn't for a perfect instructional fit. This is more of a strategy lesson--how to use nonfiction features to comprehend the piece.  When choosing a book for each group, I picked a book that they would not struggle with the text. It is better in this case for the text to be BELOW their instructional level than ABOVE it!  While the most challenging text might be too hard for any of your kids, I print this book to use for myself! It has all of the factual information and I can use it to help guide the discussion for their books with limited text.
Word Work
The next thing we do is to visit some of the high frequency words that they will encounter in their new read.  I select 2-3 words that the kids read, make, and write.  Each group will have different words to match the different levels of text.
You can snag up a free copy of this form by clicking on the image below.
 Feature Walk
The next thing we do is a feature walk in our new book. Together we look through the pages to find nonfiction features that we have already seen in our previous text.  Then, I call attention to the new nonfiction text feature.  We talk about how to use that as a reader to help us gather more information. We talk about why an author would use that feature. 
 Independent Reading
The kids now read the book independently.  As the kids are reading, I can listen in as individual children read aloud.  Remember the focus here is on how readers use nonfiction text. While I will make note of children who are experiencing difficulty in areas such as applying word attack skills, I will not address these at this time.  These will be addressed on another day.  My focus for this lesson is on using the nonfiction features.  This is hard. I tend to want to chase the rabbit and get off of my intended objective.  I have to keep reminding myself that I am focusing on how readers use nonfiction features.
Practicing Phonics
After reading a book about Thanksgiving, this little guy is sorting pictures by long i or long e. For each lesson, I made several phonics practice pages. That way, I can select the one for each group that I think will work best.
Practicing Nonfiction Features
Now it's time to practice the features. The kids use the content from the book to practice the nonfiction feature. We make the book available to the children so that they can go back go the text to check for understanding.
Writing with Nonfiction Features
Now it's time to apply that feature to our own writing.  In this book about apples, we were learning about a cut-a-way, a feature used by authors/illustrators/photographers to show us a close up of something in the larger picture.  The kids had to match up the close ups for the nonfiction feature practice. Then, they used that to help them write text about apples using a cut-a-way.
Now, you might be saying, HOLY MOLY how do you fit all of that in and get done in 20 minutes? To tell the truth, sometimes I don't! I lose track of time. I started setting a timer for 20 minutes when I start a group. This helps me keep a handle on how much time I am requiring of them. 
Sometimes I skip the phonics practice and put that as a center instead.
Depending on the group and the time of year, I can often send kids back to their area with the book and the nonfiction feature practice and/or the writing portion. This works well for your higher achieving kids. They are usually able to complete these with little support. Encourage them to help each other when they have questions!  
Since February is fast approaching, here is a link to the February Unit.
There is also a bundle that has each of the months included.

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