Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Common Core: Informational Text

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Lord, ain't that the truth! LOL (yes, I'm well aware I just said "ain't")...it's the GA coming out in me!
I don't know about you guys, but I am seeing Common Core EVERYWHERE....at school, obviously...but also in the news, in magazines, online, on Pinterest, on Facebook, and all over TpT.
That's great! It's fabulous that we have so many resources....BUT, how do you know if it's REALLY living up to it's Common Core claim? You really need to know your stuff to be a good/savvy shopper in that aspect.
I have been thinking A LOT about this lately because I've been doing some pretty intense training on CC this year. It actually started at the beginning of the year when our school implemented a new CC aligned math program. That was the EASY part! This new math program we have was created after CC standards were out and it is completely straight forward CC based lessons. It's great!
Now comes the hard part....ELA training for Common Core.
The good great thing about all these ELA training sessions is that we have an amazing Curriculum Specialist who has actually been around the country the past couple of years becoming an "EXPERT" in Common Core. She's done work in pilot schools and went to other schools to help teach teachers how to teach CC. Not to mention, the Curriculum specialist was my mentor teacher years ago, so I can really understand things when she talks about them with me.
The not so good (read....SCARY AS ALL GET OUT) part of this whole ELA Common Core thing is realizing some of the things I have NOT been doing in my class that I will need to change. My team and I will more than likely be changing half of what we already do in our writing/reading centers to incorporate more Informational Text.
That gets me to the main point of this post tonight.
Informational Text....
I'm sure that MANY of you are more knowledgeable in this area than I am, as I do NOT consider myself an expert in any way...but for those of you who have questions or have been wondering about Informational Text, I really hope this helps.
What EXACTLY is informational text??
In our first Informational text meeting, we were asked to bring in a few examples of informational texts from our classrooms. I was really shocked to see that a couple of books I had been using as informational text, actually weren't due to the fact that they were written in a more narrative format. They were nonfiction, but NOT informational text.
Informational text and nonfiction are NOT interchangeable words. Informational text is a TYPE of nonfiction....a specific, and very important type!
If you click HERE you can read an INCREDIBLY useful article on the differences between nonfiction and informational texts. GREAT read friends...truly helped me to understand!
I love this PIN because it lists the FEATURES of informational text (and it's super cute!)
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In one of our meetings we discussed different ways to teach our students about some of these various features, and one of the EASIEST ways we were discussing was to simply scan a page from one of your informational texts (not nonfiction, but INFORMATIONAL) and show it to your class. Do a "walk through" with your students looking at the different parts of the page. What things pop out at them? Words in bold? Pictures? Maps? What can they gather from those things? Do they want to find out more about something they see? Simply thinking out loud with the students can be such a great tool.
This is something I am going to start doing once a week with a piece of informational text that matches our theme/unit.
This week I will be using a page from the book Ancient Egypt by Miranda Smith. It offers great pictures, diagrams, bold print, titles, a glossary, and an index. All features that my students need to know. :)
AND, it fits perfectly because we've been studying ANCIENT EGYPT.
 Hope you have found this post helpful! If you have anything to add, I'd love to hear from you. I love your comments.
Before I go, one recommendation:
This is a VERY handy tool made by my friend Jen Jones from Hello Literacy!
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It would REALLY help to organize all this new information for your kiddos!
I teach First grade and my little kiddos can take this with them....after all, informational text will follow them the rest of their lives! :)
For even MORE info on INFORMATIONAL TEXTS, hop on over to Mrs. Russell's Class! for her first of many COMMON CORE ELA shift posts!
Happy Teaching (and learning!)....I know I still have a lot more to learn about all this Common Core!


  1. Where do I begin with how much love I am feeling for this post! :) I am exactly where you are in the process with ELA as far as figuring out what exactly does reaching the mastery benchmark look like in a first grade classroom. Scaffolding is going to be so key in how we do things! Chunking things over time is the best way, imo, especially with emergent readers. This is a total must read for those of us who are starting the journey towards implementation! ;) Bravo, Marie! :)

    1. Absolutely Tamara! We have been doing so many trainings lately on scaffolding and the idea that the curriculum is a staircase instead of a spiral now....Thanks for the comment! :)

  2. I loved reading this. Texas is not one of the states that adopted CC....yet. But I want to be ahead of the game when they do! I'm also your newest follower!

    Rowdy in First Grade

    1. Thank you so much Jennifer! Our school has just adopted it this year really...we started talking about it last year and training, but we are hoping to have it fully adopted by the end of this year.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. I hear you about CCSS! I like them but it's a bit overwhelming at times. Thanks for sharing the list of informational text features! That will be helpful.
    First Grade Found Me

  4. Hi Marie, My focus this week with the kids was text features too so this was perfect. Good information comparing non-fiction to informational texts. Great information. I am glad you found my friend Tamara, too:)

    The Resourceful Apple


I love reading your comments! :)

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