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Three Incredible Nonfiction Resources


Nonfiction Sites Every Teacher Should Know About

Nonfiction texts allow readers to experience the amazing wonders of our world. When teachers help students become more proficient nonfiction readers, they are training young minds to read more deeply, to ask more relevant questions, and to come to a better understanding of the world in which they live. And since research indicates that 85% of the material adults read every day is nonfiction, it is important for teachers to show students how to embrace and decode this genre. Here are a few sites that will make nonfiction lessons fun for students to try and easy for teachers to implement.

Site #1: NEWSELA
Why? Newsela writers rewrote each article so that teachers can differentiate assignments and assessments. Users simply change the lexile levels of articles and quizzes on the right sidebar.

Details and Link
Newsela is an innovative way to build reading comprehension with daily news that’s always relevant. With one mouse click, the architects of this site make it easy for an entire class to read the same content, but at a level that’s just right for each student. Some of the articles include common-core-aligned quizzes as well. (Link: https://newsela.com/)

Site #2: WONDEROPOLIS
Why? This site is downright fun! And what makes it even better is that every multi-disciplinary, high-interest article and video aligns to the Common Core State Standards, the STEM Educational Quality Framework, and the Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Details and Link
Wonderopolis features a Wonder of the Day. Each day, an intriguing question is posed and then explored in a variety of ways. Word challenges, audio options, and comprehension checks are included with each daily article. (Link: http://wonderopolis.org/about/)

Site #3: READWORKS
Why? Lessons, evidence-based question sets and complete units are downloadable for free.

Details and Link
ReadWorks provides authentic, core-aligned, research-based units for grades K-8.  This user-friendly site makes it easy for teachers to locate, print, and download stimulating fiction and nonfiction resources by 1) subject area, 2) grade level or 3) lexile level. ReadWorks does require each teacher to provide an email addresses in order to download and print from this site.( Link: http://www.readworks.org/)

So there you have it: Three nonfiction sites that will engage students and delight teachers.

Recommended book of graphic organizers for nonfiction reading and informational writing (Link: http://bit.ly/1tw5EaL):

ELA Cracking_the_common_core_code_Cover_NoKS_Logo

31 Templates and Samples

Until next time…stay committed…teach with passion…and inspire students with who you are.

Get monthly tips like this one at http://elaseminars.com/opt-in-1.htm.

To find more resources for ELA teachers only, visit www.ELAseminars.com.

Share Point: If you are in love with a nonfiction site, please share the link in the comment section!

Students Writing

Students who consistently earn advanced proficient writing scores have one thing in common: They know how to add the kind of details to their stories that satisfy readers.

Fortunately, most of the techniques they use are easy to teach.

Here are eight elaboration strategies I share with students to help them add effective details to narrative pieces:

#1 Add action verbs.
Action verbs—such as gripped, slumped, trudged, glared, and perched—bring boring sentences to life. Too often, young writers are content using weaker versions of these verbs (i.e. held, sat, walked, looked, and stood). Find practice prompts (with standards included) that require students to use strong verbs here.

#2 Use transitions.
Transitional words—such as because, eventually, when, before, and after—belong in all writing genres. They are signposts designed to guide readers into a deeper understanding of the text. Download a list of narrative transitions here.

#3 Add unexpected numbers.
Precise numbers—such as 10:03 PM, 96 degrees, or 81mph—add authenticity to writings. Readers expect an event to start at 8:00 or to learn that a driver is speeding or to be told it’s hot outside—so surprise them by using very specific numbers that will pop off the page and pull them into the scene instead. Find practice prompts (with standards included) that require students to use specific times here.

#4 Include proper nouns.
Names and places—such as Dexter Sweeny, Tiffany Chappelle, Rockville Middle School, and Piccadilly Drive—conjure up images in readers’ minds. Keep readers engaged by teasing them with names and places that will make them curious enough to want to confirm or negate their “first impressions” (e.g. Is Dexter Sweeny rich and spoiled or geeky and intelligent?). Download a sample lesson here. Read the full blog post on the power of proper nouns here.

#5 Use repetition for effect.
Repetition of single words—such as No light. No sound. No movement.—adds rhythm, emphasis, and drama to narratives. Once in a while it’s fun to take control of readers’ emotions before revealing a conflict, a motive, or a consequence. Repeating words or phrases (usually in sets of three) is an effective way to build suspense just before revealing something significant. Find examples here.

#6 Include thought shots.
Thought shots—thoughts that reveal fears, plans, reactions, worries, and joys—allow readers to understand the things that influence characters’ decisions. Find 50 free practice prompts (with standards included) that require students to create thought shots here.

#7 Use emphatic word fragments.
An emphatic word fragment—such as “Regrets. We all have them.”—is a rule-breaking strategy used by many contemporary writers. The use of a single word (usually a noun) followed by a period, forces readers to pay attention to all the sentences that support it. Learn more about emphatic words and phrases here.

#8 Include texture words.
Texture words—such as icy, gritty, varnished, damp, and slippery—are among the most frequently overlooked descriptive words. Think about it. Most writers include sights and sounds. Many add familiar scents and comfort foods. But textures? They are often the forgotten members of the five-senses family. Get a list of 400 texture words here. 

Additional elaboration techniques—such as (1) Creating Believable Protagonists and Antagonists, (2) Designing Novel-Worthy Character Names, (3) Developing Irresistible Personalities, (4) Using Nouns and Verb Combos to Develop Writing Fluency and (5) Turning Broad Adjectives into Active Verb Phrases—are available here.

Visual-Writers-Notebook

Share Point: Now, here’s a question for you: What is one easy writing strategy your students use to add interest to their narrative writings?

Until next time…stay committed…teach with passion…and inspire students with who you are.

About the author: Janice Malone is a teacher, seminar leader and owner of ELA Seminars. Visit her website www.ELAseminars.com, or check out the 100’s of free lessons she has posted on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/elaseminars/.

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