Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Reading and Understanding Nonfiction—with FREE download!

Posted by Hilary Gard on May 23, 2017 3:15:00 PM

Today's post features our new guest blogger, Hilary Gard, who is a 2nd grade teacher. If you like this post, make sure to check out her blog, Primary Planet!

Hi! I’m Hilary from Primary Planet and I am guest blogging at Hameray today!

Today, I am here to talk about reading and understanding nonfiction. Students often have a hard time remembering what they read when they read nonfiction. When we read nonfiction books together in class, we stop often to check for understanding. The books in the Real World series are a perfect way to make reading a “real world” experience!

One strategy that I use often with my students is to use sticky notes. Before we read a nonfiction (or fiction, for that matter) book, we stick sticky notes on every few pages. When we reach the sticky note, we say what we’ve learned from that section. Having students tell what they learned or teach a friend what they learned is a great way to for students to remember what they are reading about.

If we are reading independently, we write down what we learned on the sticky note. This is a great way to gauge what students are learning and remembering when you conduct reading conferences with your students.

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In this book What’s the Time?, the students read about different ways to tell time. We used a Nonfiction Notes Graphic Organizer to record the information we learned from the book.


After we read and filled in our graphic organizers, the students shared what they had written down with their partners.

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You can get your own copy of the Nonfiction Notes Graphic Organizer by clicking the link below. 


Thanks so much for stopping by today! I hope you and your students enjoy the little freebie!


Hilary Gard has been teaching for 17 years, 13 of those years in 2nd grade. She is a children’s book collector and does a weekly book series called Book Talk Tuesday on her blog, Primary Planet.


To download Hilary's Nonfiction Notes Graphic Organizer, click the left image below. For more information about Story World Real World, click the right image below.

Nonfiction Notes        New Call-to-Action


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Topics: Real World, Reading Comprehension, Nonfiction, Hilary Gard

Increasing Reading Comprehension with "Code-It"—with FREE Download!

Posted by Richard Giso on Mar 3, 2014 8:18:00 AM

Richard Giso 200This is a guest post by Richard Giso, an occasional contributor to our blog. Click here to see his earlier posts, and check back here on our Classroom Literacy blog frequently to see if he's got a new post up! You could also check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.

Increase Reading Comprehension

Hi again! It’s Rich Giso from Mr. Giso’s Room to Read, pleased to be sharing another comprehension-boosting idea for you to try with your readers. With the popularity of the Reader’s Workshop model, there have been a lot of anchor charts out there to assist students in what is called “text coding.” The whole idea is to give students a hands-on approach (which always works well) to monitor the manner in which they interact with text, thus increasing their comprehension and awareness about the importance of metacognition while reading.

code it 300During guided reading, we prompt for understanding in order to boost our readers’ comprehension. This scaffolding is necessary in order to successfully introduce more complex texts one level at a time. I’ll often ask “Did you know this before?” or “Can you make a connection here?” By doing this, I am selecting the points in the reading in which I feel will trigger a connection. This guided way of interacting with text is great, but does it transfer to my students’ independent reading when I am unavailable to facilitate their understanding? I’m sure it does to an extent, but I’d like more. I’m worried that many of my readers read too passively without either my support or some sort of written response or record sheet that forces them to pay close attention. 

I’ve devised a way to keep reader engaged in the text while reading; it's called a “Code-It!” card. Here is how it works. First, I copy the “Code-It!” cards onto colored cardstock, trim them, and laminate them for durability. Next, I use a black permanent marker and sticky tabs to draw each coding symbol on the non-clear side. The tabs are placed in their corresponding row. I’ve picked easy-to-remember symbols such as a question mark to mean “I don’t get it,” or an eye to mean, “I can see that (visualize).”

code tab 1 300code tab 2 300

As my readers read independently or whisper-read in guided reading, they remove the sticky tab and place it in the part of the text for which they want to code their thinking. In this manner, they have the visual of the sticky to scaffold them to interact in parts of the text that make sense to them—not parts I have picked out beforehand. After reading, I can bring students together and have a book talk about their thinking throughout the text navigated by the sticky tabs. The sticky tabs can then be returned to the “Code It!” card; they stay sticky for a pretty long time. I’ve shared the directions and the “Code It!” card template, so grab some sticky tabs and give this a try! You can download the card template at the bottom of this page!


I'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.

Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates.


To download the card template, click the image to the left below. To learn more about the Download series of books (from which images from the book Predators were shown in today's post), click the image to the right below to download an information sheet with series highlights. Or you can click here to visit our website!

Code-It Card Template Download Download Series Highlights

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Topics: Richard Giso, K-2 Literacy, Struggling Readers, Striving Readers, Reading Comprehension

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