we know that the main purpose of reading an informational, or nonfiction, text is to learn something. kids, though, often get stuck in the little details. if you’re a teacher, you know that any fact or detail with numbers attached to it seems to scream IMPORTANT to a kid. nonfiction texts are about so much more than facts and details. just as there are ideas in our fiction books, there are ideas – central ideas – that are supported by facts and details across a text or a section of a text.
reading anchor standard 4, a craft and structure standard, states that students will be able to “interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyzing how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.”
this work will likely require multiple modelings and coaching students through the work, and read aloud is a great place to start with it. for a possible progression of how this could go, see the post about gradually releasing responsibility.
we believe strongly in creating scaffolds, modeling using them, making them accessible to students, and celebrating when they’re used. students who don’t need them aren’t likely to use them (for long, anyway; they may use them at first, but will likely quickly drop it because they don’t need it), and those students who do need them will feel empowered by their success with using them.
thinking about characters is something kids are asked to do every year in their fiction reading. it’s important to have some sense of how reading standard 3, which states that students will “analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text,” progresses vertically across the grade-levels so that our teaching is not only grade-appropriate (i.e. rigorous enough), but also so that students aren’t being taught the same strategies year after year.