Have you noticed a difference in the informational text scores when you compare boys and girls? One of the presenters of an inservice I attended told us that girls typically score lower than boys in the non-fiction/informational text section of standardized test.
As you can imagine this caused many of us to look through our classroom library through with a careful eye. I was one of the guilty ones who had bookshelves full of wonderful stories but they were mainly fiction. I had one teeny tiny basket of non-fiction stories. Sad, isn't it! I think my own preference for fiction had influenced my buying choices. I knew it was time for me make some changes.
First, I needed to find some adult non-fiction books. No, I wasn't going to add these to my classroom library. I felt I would do a better job of incorporating it into my day at school if I was "walking the talk". I visited my favorite used book store and discovered Malcolm Gladwell's books. Have you read any of his books? They are amazing!!! I was hooked on a new genre! So many of the things he talks about I could easily apply to the school setting. The first one I read was The Tipping Point. It is a must read for everyone, no matter what your profession is because it can be applied to a wide variety of situations. His books are so good that I don't wait for the paperback to come out or even to find them at the used bookstore. I pay full price for hardbacks, they are that good!
- Click HERE to read the preview for The Tipping Point.
- Click HERE to read the preview for David and Goliath.
- Click HERE to read the preview for Outliers
- Click HERE to read the preview for Blink.
- Click HERE to read the preview for What the Dog Saw.
Then I began to notice that I do read more non-fiction than I gave myself credit for. I read magazines like Prevention and Readers Digest. These magazines are full of information. One day while reading an article I thought, why don't I find a way to incorporate magazines into my lessons more often. Granted, I have used Scholastic News and Time for Kids. But, I have not used the monthly magazines that many of my students subscribe to at home.
I visited several local thrift stores. I found a huge collection that only cost 25 cents a piece. Most of them were either Zoobooks or Ranger Ricks. This was a good start but I knew I needed a wider variety. So, I sent home a note asking parents for donations. My parents were more than happy to donate. They told me that they hated to throw the magazines away but their child no longer read them so they were taking up space.
There are many wonderful online sources. Click on the picture to visit the sites below.
When a friend who is stressed out and feels overwhelmed comes to me for advice, I always tell them the same thing.
- Integrate! Integrate! Integrate! This is one of the best ways to use your time wisely. Some students have to hear something several times presented several different ways. You will begin to see those little lightbulbs going off during your center time about a science concept when you do this.
- If you have 5 centers that your students rotate through each week, make at least 3 of them yearly centers. What I mean by this is the format of the center will not change throughout the year. Only the skills will change, but HOW the students complete the work will remain the same. When you do this, you've cut down on 60% of the questions you'll get during your small group instructions. You'll cut down 60% of the time you spend explaining how to do the centers on Mondays. What will you do with all of that extra time you are saving? I'm sure there are other things on your to-do list!
I made a Magazine Center as one of my yearly centers. From time to time, I would send out a S.O.S. to parents that I needed more magazines. This helped give us a variety and keep the interest of my students. This is an easy way to ensure you always have informational text lessons in your plans. Click HERE to read more about this center.
Looking for more ideas? Click on the pictures below: