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Readers’ Guides: Helping Students Think About Informational Text

Suzy Kaback finds the task of creating readers’ guides helps students in the intermediate grades think about evidence in texts in more sophisticated ways.

Content and Context

Melanie Meehan considers content and context for students who struggle to master new skills because of a lack of background knowledge.

Group Meeting: Sharing Resources for Animal Study

Katherine Sokolowski helps her fifth-grade students expand their territory for their animal research projects by sharing information sources and peer connections.

My World Maps

Creating “world” maps is a great way to explore the territories beyond school that matter most to everyone in your classroom. Suzy Kaback explains how to create them with students early in the year as a way to get to know them as learners and community members.

Building a Next-Read Nonfiction Stack

Katherine Sokolowski helps fifth grader Jack build a next-read stack of nonfiction, highlighting a variety of text features and historical references.

Literacy and Global Competence

“China is going to kill us all!” This quote from a student causes Matt Renwick to stop and consider how schools can use literacy to promote global understanding.

Backward Chaining

How do you help students who are far behind their classmates in tackling writing projects, and have had years of learned helplessness in approaching complex tasks? Melanie Meehan takes on the challenge with a backward-chaining model.

Building Stronger Wordsmiths

Maria Caplin is integrating vocabulary work into content areas.

More Nonfiction Read Alouds

Franki Sibberson shares strategies for incorporating more nonfiction into read-aloud times throughout the day.

Reflecting on the L

Mark Levine wonders if his middle school students are spending enough time reflecting on the L in K-W-L, so he creates a form to help.

Exploring Text Features

Melanie Meehan works with a small group to talk through how nonfiction text features might enhance their informational writing.

Environment Small Group: Habitat

Katherine Sokolowski leads a small group of fifth graders who have chosen similar topics for their projects in an environmental unit.

The Ocean Research Project: From Launch to Celebration in 10 Days

Ten days from the launch of student research projects to a celebration with families? Katherine Sokolowski shares how a tight time frame that concludes with an evening event can bring energy and high student interest to the research process.

Research Through Picture Books

Katherine Sokolowski explains how picture books can be a potent tool for teaching intermediate students research skills.

Environmental Group Notes

Katherine Sokolowski meets briefly with a group of fifth-grade girls to go through the notes they are taking for their environmental studies project and talk through next steps.

Fact or Fiction? Introducing the Task


Christy Rush-Levine has her middle school students complete a fun and sophisticated reading activity using Muse magazine to sort through what might be fact or fiction. The piece includes a video excerpt from the group discussion.

Fact or Fiction? Discussion

Christy Rush-Levine has her middle school students complete a fun and sophisticated reading activity using Muse magazine to sort through what might be fact or fiction. In this second installment of the video series, students discuss the articles they have read.

Free-Range Learning with Nonfiction Part 2: Infographics and Maps

Andrea Smith shares the final installment of her series on the value of free-range learning in helping students explore nonfiction.

Minilesson on Facts and Sources

Katherine Sokolowski presents a minilesson on ferreting out facts while completing independent research projects.

Free Range Learning with Nonfiction (Part 1)

Andrea Smith's students explore nonfiction through free-range roaming. She explains how she sets up expectations and resources early in the year in this first installment of a two-part series.

Creating Curiosity with Story

Mark Levine finds that the secret to engaging students in what might be perceived as dry historical topics is to create curiosity with story.

The Daily Record

Mark Levine uses the “daily record” to encourage reflection throughout each day’s workshop in his social studies classroom.

The Pocahontas Ewww: Writing and Inquiry for Context

Mark Levine finds his middle school students are appalled by some of the cultural differences from times gone by, and shares how he fosters more understanding.

“What Are We Learning Today?”: Transitioning with Compelling Questions

Mark Levine helps his seventh-grade students transition to the learning of the day with a "compelling question" posted on the board before each class session.

Creating a Space for Peace

At a time of escalating violence throughout the world, children need peaceful spaces. Katie DiCesare creates a "peace table" in her first-grade classroom as a safe place for working through everything from playground squabbles to emotional distress.

Nonfiction Research Group in Fifth Grade

Katherine Sokolowski meets with a group of fifth graders who are all researching the use of nets in fishing and the environmental effects of the process. She works to build connections among classmates as well as research skills.

Digging into Research Questions

Melanie Meehan explains how helping students deepen their questioning strategies leads to more thoughtful research projects.

#articleaday

Justin Stygles uses a daily nonfiction article activity as a way to build interest in nonfiction short texts, especially among reluctant readers in his classroom.

New and Improved Nonfiction

Jennifer Schwanke remembers the days when mimeographed nonfiction pieces were rare and not welcome additions to elementary classrooms, and reflects on how much has changed.

Strategies for Elaboration in Opinion Writing

Melanie Meehan works with fifth graders who are struggling to elaborate on themes in their opinion writing.

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