Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Informational text is the new nonfiction

The educational spotlight is shining on nonfiction. The CCSS for reading INFORMATIONAL TEXTS (RI) tell us that we must integrate more nonfiction than ever into the curriculum. The library will seize this opportunity to purchase and promote outstanding nonfiction.  Scroll down for some ideas  for incorporating some of our outstanding nonfiction books into the CCSS ELA lessons for next year from School  Library Journal Kathleen Odean. K-8

CC Standard RI.4.9 Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

Use these books...

Barretta, Gene.Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin.. Gr 2–5
Byrd, RobertElectric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin. iGr 4–7
Fritz, JeanWhat’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? Gr 3–5
Schroeder, AlanBen Franklin: His Wit and Wisdom from A to Z. Gr 2–5

Ben Franklin wore so many hats that he merits many biographies. These illustrated books at different reading levels take a variety of approaches to his life and work. Barretta uses a “Now/Then” structure, focusing on Franklin’s inventions in his day and how they’re used now. Schroeder uses an alphabetical arrangement that mixes miscellaneous facts; the letter “B,” for example, covers Boston, bifocals, andballoon. The Fritz and Byrd biographies are chronological structures, but have different tones and levels of detail. Students can compare emphases and structures, perhaps using a graphic organizer, and also compare the varied illustration styles and what they add to each text.

Gibbons, GailMonarch Butterfly.  PreS–Gr 2
Marsh, Laura F
 Caterpillar to Butterfly. PreS–Gr 2
CC Standard RI K.9 
With prompting and support, identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).
The amazing transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is conveyed in different ways by these two colorful books. Kindergarteners will be able to identify similarities in the information and differences in presentation such as photographs versus paintings. Both books use labels in the visuals to highlight body parts. The Marsh book has a table of contents, numbered chapters, a glossary, and tips for a butterfly garden. Gibbons’s book features a map of migration routes and explains how to raise a monarch butterfly.
Kudlinski, Kathleen VBoy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs! Gr 2–4
CC Standard RI.4.8 
Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.
It was once believed that dinosaurs dragged their tails; now fossil finds indicate that they held their tails out straight. This upbeat book with humorous illustrations provides a valuable lesson in how science uses new findings and ideas to reevaluate accepted beliefs, comparing what scientists used to think about dinosaurs with what they think now. Students can make a chart listing each past belief, each new belief, and the evidence that prompted the change, and judge whether the evidence seems sufficient. The book explains that scientists still don’t have all the answers, often due to insufficient evidence, and they don’t always agree with one another in interpreting evidence. Students can look for language that indicates uncertainty, such as “there is no way to be sure.” Some students might like to compare this book to Kudlinski’s Boy, Were We Wrong about the Solar System! (Dutton, 2008) which has a similar structure.
Leedy, LoreenSeeing Symmetry.  Gr 2–4
CC Standard RI.3.7 
Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
Bright computer-generated pictures use familiar objects like food, animals, and people to show examples of vertical, horizontal, and rotational symmetry. The simple text explains the concepts and introduces new vocabulary like line symmetrymirror image,horizontalvertical, and rotate, terms which will require going over more than once. Students can then seek out examples in school and at home to demonstrate their understanding of the types of symmetry. Teachers may also want to use the two craft activities given at the back of the book to reinforce the concepts.
Macaulay, David, and Sheila KeenanCastle: How It Works.Gr 1–3
CC Standard RI.2.4 
Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
The master of architectural books turns his talents to a younger crowd with this easy reader that meets the CC need for texts on technical subjects. With a slight fictional story line, the appealing text and pictures introduce castle residents, parts of the building, and different weapons, using technical terms in context like siege and portcullis, which are also defined in the glossary. At certain points the voice is second person, such as, “You are deep within the castle.” Students can note where that’s used and what it adds. Another book in the series by the same authors is Jet Plane: How It Works, which has similar features and approach.
Mann, ElizabethEmpire State Building. Gr 4–8
Standard RI.5.3 
Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in it.
The Empire State Building dazzled New York City when it was built in 1931. This engaging Orbis Pictus Honor Book employs cutaways and numbered diagrams to demonstrate how it was constructed. Students can analyze how the text and visuals, including paintings and historical photographs, convey the process, noting that building skyscrapers depended on technological advances such as the inventions of steel and the automatic elevator brake. Another central idea is that during the Great Depression the Empire State Building was an important symbol of hope to New Yorkers, who were proud of the height made possible only by those technological advances. Check out other books in the “Wonders of the World” series, too, which satisfy the CC call for technical content.
Rappaport, DoreenMartin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  K–Gr 3
CC Standard RI.1.2 
Identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.
The lyrical words and expansive pictures in this stunning award winner make it an excellent read-aloud. After listening to the book more than once or reading it independently, students can discuss its title and subtitle, which point to the main topic about the power of words in Dr. King’s life. As a class or in small groups, they can find details in the text, including the quotes in a colored typeface, that relate to the theme. Enrich the experience by listening to a clip from one of Dr. King’s speeches at Stanford’s MLK website.
Burgan, MichaelBreaker Boys: How a Photograph Helped End Child Labor. Gr 6–9
CC Standard RI.6.5 
Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas.
Photographs can change history. So contends this and other entries in the valuable “Captured History” series. Breaker Boys’ straightforward text focuses on a 1911 photograph by Lewis Hine of a group of boys who sorted coal at a Pennsylvania mine for 10 hours a day. The four chapters discuss coal mining, children in the mines, Hine and his work, and the slow changes in child labor laws. Students will be able to identify the structure as cause and effect, and analyze the role of the four chapters. They can also look for sentences and paragraphs that develop the idea of the political influence of photographs. To extend the topic, have students find more Hine photographs about child labor at the Library of Congress website or that can be used in presentations.
Burns, Loree GriffinTracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion.  Gr 6–9
CC Standard RI.7.3 
Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).
This fascinating photo-essay presents the work of an oceanographer who studies ocean currents by following the movement of debris like rubber ducks and hockey gloves spilled by container ships into the Pacific. Students can identify the central ideas about principles of ocean movement and issues around pollution, and trace their interaction through the text, noting how information about the scientist’s work and scientific methods are integrated with those ideas. Students can also consider how photographs, diagrams, and maps are crucial in developing the concepts. Other entries in the excellent “Scientists in the Field” series also lend themselves to use with Common Core.
Schlosser, Eric and Charles Wilson. Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food.Gr 7–10
CC Standard RI.8.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
Fast food—good or bad? In adapting Schlosser’s best seller Fast Food Nation, the authors thoughtfully added material relevant to teens about how fast food is marketed to young people and about teenagers who work in fast food restaurants. They point to problems with working conditions at the restaurants and with inhumane treatment of animals at companies that supply meat. They also argue that fast food harms the environment and consumers’ health. Students can consider whether the authors provide credible evidence for their arguments and if they acknowledge competing arguments about benefits of fast food such as convenience and low prices.
Stone, Tanya LeeAlmost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream.Gr 6 Up
CC Standard RI.8.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.
In the early 1960s, 13 women highly qualified to become astronauts were excluded by NASA from the Mercury space program. This appealing Sibert Award winner, notable for the author’s strong point of view, explores the reasons and biases behind the decision. Students can examine the text for language and other evidence that show Stone’s position on the topic and the people involved. For example, what words does she use to describe the women, some of whom she interviewed? How does she present opposing viewpoints that argued that women shouldn’t be included? One of the book’s main themes is that society minimized women’s abilities and restricted their opportunities. Students can consider how photographs and artifacts like advertisements are used to make that case, and if it’s presented fairly.

-Kathleen Odean

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