* I used this text because it supports our current Social Studies unit. The chapter has great text features that are common to a typical Social Studies/Science 2nd grade text. It's important to help kids realize they should be using reading strategies with these texts and everyday materials. Often kids think that 'reading is reading' and 'social studies is social studies', but this line no longer exists for the Common Core Standards. Instead of picking random informational texts, choose those that support the students' learning in other academic areas. This is powerful cross-curricular learning. Make sure the kids are familiar with the information and then introduce a text that supports what they are learning. It's a great way to bolster their academic learning and create stronger readers.
** "Imaging" is the term that my district uses for "visualizing". In order to stay true to the district expectations, I'll continue to use this verbage. Visualizing is a critical skill for 2nd graders because they need to 'go deeper' in the text. By visualizing as they read, they are creating and tweaking images in their minds as they actively read. This kind of 'close reading', forming images using text, verifying and changing those images, and ultimately comparing their images to the author, creates critical readers and deepens comprehension.
Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics. The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary. My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)
Common starting point
Introduce the task
As we discuss these text features, the students identify other ways to comprehend informational text, beyond the words. They are using these various text features to locate information quickly that will aid in understanding (RI.2.5). As students use the text efficiently to comprehend information, I am encouraging students to draw on their own abilities to discover answers themselves rather than rely on adults to decode and reteach information from the text, an emphasis in the Common Core Standards.
The standards encourage us to use much more informational text in our study. The students need to learn how to 'read for information' and ultimately 'read to learn'. This is a new concept for 2nd graders and it's well worth the time spent to teach them how to read this kind of text. Kids often read informational text like literature, ignoring the text features and looking for a story.
I have found, while delving into the Common Core and introducing more informational text, that my kids LOVE this kind of text. It is fascinating to them to read about rockets, animals, history, and other topics.
While reading and talking, discussions may lead us off track. Some of my students had questions about the 'stars.' Here are their questions about stars and symbols. It's worth taking the time to get off topic and answer student questions, but try not to get too far off track.
This students' explanation of how the specific images and text features contribute to and clarify text is really the goal of the lesson (RI.2.7). I am looking for them to be introspective and ask themselves questions such as, "How does this map help me?", or say things to themselves such as, "I should read the list because it has important information."
As part of the Common Core Standards, I am asking students to identify informational text features and how they help them to comprehend better. For students with disabilities who struggle with reading, this task is made harder because they have trouble understanding the text. For this student with language challenges, finding the headings and identifying how they help requires lots of extra support. Even though this is difficult for these learners, the experience and challenge, given support, is a great learning experience.
Reflect on your work
Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.
Students with academic challenges may need help formulating ideas about how the features help them and identifying those features in the text. I did provide some spelling help on the whiteboard and extra prompts for them.
Students with higher language may be able to a provide a better description of how these features help us with higher level vocabulary. I would challenge them to go beyond 'captions tell us what is in the picture' to 'captions share the meaning in the illustration.'