Moving along in our nonfiction unit

We are getting to the end of of nonfiction partner read – each pair previews the chapter together, then reads and note takes independently, and then they come together to create a box and bullets: main idea, supporting details.  Here are somethings I’ve learned about my sixth graders:
  • Their nonfiction reading stamina is far less than their fiction reading stamina. We really need to work on this!
  • Even so, now that they have begun reading high quality nonfiction about high interest topics, they have discovered (much to their surprise) that they actually like nonfiction!
  • They need a lot of guided practice in this – the process can’t be rushed.  I’ve done a lot of whole class modelling as well as partner modelling. 
  • They need to practice re-reading to clarify meaning, and to use nonfiction features to help them in this process.  They are finally at the point when they return to diagrams, maps and pictures to help them do this. 
  • Working in pairs and reading in small chunks (chapter by chapter) before discussing rally helps.  They are able to clarify meaning and thinking, and sometimes one student misses an important piece of information which his/her partner has not – more clarification and opportunity for re-reading.
  • We need to practice the habit of thinking in terms of main ideas and supporting details … and then how all those main ideas fit together to form a larger topic (the reverse boxes and bullets) .  Discussing this helps clarify  – and partnerships have helped some of my struggling students gain a better understanding of this. 
 We will have completed this round by Friday…and then we move on to topic based nonfiction book clubs – a brand new adventure for us!

One thought on “Moving along in our nonfiction unit

  1. Your topic-based non-fiction book clubs sound somewhat like our units, except our students just do more than read a book about a topic. But what fun to see how they like it. I hope you'll share what books they choose. Thanks Tara, for this update!

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