Nonfiction Text Features: Books and Lesson Ideas

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of teaching all of the different nonfiction text features? Don’t be! We’re excited to have Molly from the Sassy Apple guest blogging for us today, and Molly has written an excellent post all about how to successfully teach nonfiction text features. Her ideas are accessible for both teachers and students, and she’s included a freebie at the end. Read on to learn more about her suggestions and insight!

 

Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!
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Nonfiction text features can be a lot of fun to teach, but they can also feel a bit overwhelming because there is just so much information. Teaching students how to utilize all of the offered text features is crucial for optimum comprehension. They need to not only know how to identify text features but also what their purpose is for supporting understanding–the what and the why. Here are some teaching strategies, books, and ideas to consider when planning your lessons on nonfiction text features.

 

Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!

Build and activate background knowledge.

How you scaffold and spiral your lessons on nonfiction text features will be a major determining factor in student success. It will be important to first find out how much students know about the differences between fiction and nonfiction. I like to begin with a pile of fiction and nonfiction books mixed together. Then, I have students help me sort into fiction and nonfiction piles. At this point, I do not correct them if there is a misconception, but I will simply guide with questions like, “How do you know that it’s fiction/nonfiction? What clues are you using to decide?” We will revisit the pile after the next step.

Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!
Next, create an anchor chart to show the differences. I always teach: Fiction = Fake, Nonfiction = Not Fake. I literally used to have to say that to myself, and I am not ashamed of it!
 
Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!

 

Now that we have made an anchor chart, we look at the pile of books again and confirm or correct whether the books are fiction or nonfiction based on the information from our anchor chart. I have found that modeling using the anchor chart once it’s made will help my students in referring back to it when they need assistance!

Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!

Focus on a few nonfiction text features at a time.

Now that you have activated students’ background knowledge, it’s time to introduce each feature. However, not only are there A LOT of features, but they also have some tricky names.  Teaching 2-3 features per week allows students to have a significant amount of time to explore the feature in greater depth. Model how to identify them in the text. I do this by placing a sticky note flag label on the text feature.

Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!
Once students have had practice identifying, I add another sticky note for the purpose or what information the text feature is providing.
 
Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!

Then, spiral. Once you have taught a feature, do not assume that your students have mastered it. Continue to weave it back into your teaching every few weeks. For example, if in September I taught about photographs, captions, and table of contents, then in October I might teach about glossaries and indexes and review table of contents again (since it connects well with the other two). I have included the order in which I like to teach them. There is no right or wrong order, but this is just what has worked for me! I do not teach text features for eight weeks straight; I will spread this throughout the first half (or so) of the school year. Then, I will continue to weave nonfiction text features into my instruction with even more depth throughout the second half of the school year.

Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!
Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!
When teaching comprehension, the most obvious way to differentiate is through different levels of text. It makes a lot of sense to work on comprehension skills using books students can read independently. But, we also want to make sure these books are interesting to students. Before you start your nonfiction unit, check in with students about their interests. This could be an informal conversation or a written interest survey. Then, you can make sure to choose topics that will keep them engaged.

 

Choose engaging text.

Make sure to include a variety of nonfiction text–including books that do not fit into our idea of what a nonfiction book looks like. You can’t talk about nonfiction without including Gail Gibbons. Her books don’t fit the nonfiction mold, so they are a great source for discussing how nonfiction can look like fiction. Her books provide amazing information in a very student-friendly format.

 

Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!

Allow students to choose how they would like to show their learning.

Not only do you want a variety of text options, but you should also include multiple means for practicing independently. One widely-used activity is a nonfiction text feature scavenger hunt. This graphic organizer simplifies it a bit by focusing on four text features. Keeping it more simplified helps students focus on mastering a few features at a time. You can support students by allowing them to use sticky notes for identifying text features–just like it was modeled!

 

Biographies make the perfect books for exploring text features.

Have you read any of the Who Is/Who Was? series of books? These books are super popular with young readers. I love teaching my students all about Jane Goodall. Her life is fascinating to people of all ages! I mean, who doesn’t love a cute chimpanzee? Your students will enjoy learning about her life while exploring text features that help them understand her experiences!

 

Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!
Famous athletes are always a hit! This biography by Matt Christopher shares about Michael Jordan’s life in a easy-to-read format including many photographs. This book is not only educational but entertaining, as well. Pair it with another scavenger hunt-type graphic organizer where students search for the feature and record the page number and their findings.

 

Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!
I have to admit that I am not a huge Magic Tree House fan myself. But, I know my students are, so I make sure to include what they like (since it’s not all about me!). These fact tracker books are perfect for connecting fiction and nonfiction. Students can apply what they have learned about text features by creating their own for a page that could benefit from one. This will really test their understanding!

 

Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!
I hope you have found some ideas you can use for teaching text features! Using text features is a skill that comes back around all year long and year after year, so having a lot of resources is important for re-teaching and reviewing.

 

You can find all of the graphic organizers above and the pacing guide here for free!
Nonfiction text features is an overwhelming topic to teach in English language arts, especially because it's not a very exciting topic and because there are so many. However, our guest blogger has broken down how to teach nonfiction text features into bite-sized, easy steps to make it accessible for both teachers and students. Click through to learn more about these strategies for upper elementary classrooms!
Happy Teaching!

 

* Minds in Bloom, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.

The Sassy AppleMolly is a 2nd grade teacher and blogger. She has been creating teaching resources for five years. You can learn about more lesson ideas at her blog or on Instagram.

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