Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Common Core Corner: Talking About Informational Text Features

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on May 5, 2016 4:47:31 PM

 

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We all know by now that informational texts are a huge focus of the Common Core State Standards, with special emphasis placed on how to recognize informational text features and knowing how to use them. Just teaching students the names of these different parts of a book is not enough—though even that can be tricky for beginning readers. They also need to know why they are important.

One way you can help students to understand the purpose of informational text features is to divide the features into categories. You can show them how each category of text feature is there to help them in a particular way. You can teach them to think of these features not as a challenge to understand, but as a set of helpful friends that are there to make understanding the text easier. Here is one way to divide the features:

Features for Finding

These features tell you where things are. If an assignment asks the student a question about something in the text, these features are helpful for the student to locate the information and answer the question.

  • Table of Contents
  • Index
  • Headings

Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_4.45.20_PM.pngFeatures for Flagging

These features tell you what is important. If a student is reading a book, these features are a sign, like waving a little flag, that tell them that it's time to pay close attention.

  • Bold print
  • Italics
  • Bullet points ;)

Features for Explaining

These features take something on the page and tell you more about it. They are there to give you more information and show you how something works or what something means.

  • Glossary
  • Captions
  • Diagrams
  • Charts
  • Sidebars

Once students understand how informational texts are there to help them—each helping in its own way—it will make it a little easier for them to meet the standards of knowing how to use them even at early grade levels. For low-level informational texts that contain these features and make a good introduction to how they work, check out our paired text series: Fables and the Real World (at a first-grade reading level) and Story World Real World (at a second-grade reading level).

For more information on our informational texts and to see inside pages of books from these series and more, you can click the image below to download an informational text brochure.

K-3 Informational Text Brochure

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Topics: Common Core, Informational Text, Reading Standards

Talk about Tubman: Taking Advantage of Current Events

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Apr 21, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Harriet Tubman portraitThe Common Core State Standards require students to "describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text" (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3: Informational Text).

There are many great ways to get students to understand historical events in sequence and to see the connection between history and current events. One is to find relevant examples of historical figures being mentioned in current events and then present students with both a biography on the person and with information on the current event. 

This week's news of Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill provides a perfect opportunity for a lesson of this type. You can use her biography to teach exactly why she is important enough in history to deserve a place on our currency.

You can get some ideas for your lesson from the free downloadable teacher's guide for our Harriet Tubman book (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE BIOGRAPHY, GRL M). It gives Common-Core-correlated ideas for learning goals and lesson plans. Here is an excerpt of the guide:

Social Studies Goals

  • Focus on time continuity and change to explore historical issues from Harriet Tubman’s era, for example, slavery, the Underground Railroad, and how Tubman made a difference for many slaves wanting to travel to the North to achieve freedom.
  • Focus on individual development and identity, for example, how Tubman was personally motivated to make a difference in her own life and the lives of many others. 
  • Focus on individuals, groups, and institutions, for example, how slavery was a practice in certain states and how conflicts that slavery produced in the nation led to civil war. (CCSS ELA-Literacy “National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies”: Chapter 2—The Themes of Social Studies; S&L 3.1)

You can download the teacher's guide in its entirety at the bottom of this page. Beside it, there is also a series highlights sheet with key features of the books outlined that you can download if you'd like more information on the entire Hameray Biography Series, or you can click here to see all the titles available

 

 Biography Series Highlights Bio TG

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Topics: Common Core, Biography Series, Reading Standards

Classic Post: Using Biographies to Help Students Meet Common Core Reading Standards

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jul 15, 2014 8:00:00 AM

01 GeorgeWashingtonThis classic post was originally published in September 2013. Check our archives for more favorite posts!

Beginning in the second grade, the Common Core State Standards require students to "describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text" (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3: Informational Text). One great way to get students to understand historical events in sequence and to see the connection between the events is to present them with biographies.

Biographies provide a built-in connection between events: the person who is the subject of the biography is the constant thread. Following the trajectory of an interesting person's life through historical events will help students to see the cause-and-effect behind these events.

Biographies also have the added benefit of allowing students to get a peek inside the motivations of a historical or public figure. While mainly a part of the Literature standards—which ask students to be able to describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3: Literature)—these skills cross-pollinate between literature and informational text. If students can practice discerning these qualities of a real-life person, it will become easier for them to transfer that skill to fictional characters in a work of literature.

The grade levels that require these skills in their Standards are grades 2–5; at this level, students are learning how to take newly fluent reading skills and apply them to extract dense information from text. To aid them in the practice of these skills, we have targeted our Biography Series to guided reading levels M–S, generally considered to be grade levels 2–4 (though striving readers up to grade 8 can appreciate the content).

Containing the key features of informational text, such as a table of contents, index, glossary, and captions, these biographies will allow students to improve their use of search-related text features and provide a sense of chronology with the inclusion of timelines (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R).

The personalities featured in the books come from diverse backgrounds, time periods, and topics of interest—from Mother Teresa to Muhammad Ali. Currently, we're working on updating the series to include individual teacher's guides for each book, with suggestions on how to use the text in the classroom and talking points to hit throughout and after the reading. These teacher's guides will be available for free download on our website. If you'd like to be notified when they are ready, click the book cover image below to sign up for notification. To download an information sheet on the series, click the image to the right. To purchase the books, click here for the series web page.

muhammad ali teacher's guide  Biography Series Highlights

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Topics: Common Core, Biography Series, Reading Standards

Using Biographies to Help Students Meet Common Core Reading Standards

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Sep 9, 2013 8:00:00 AM

01 GeorgeWashingtonBeginning in the second grade, the Common Core State Standards require students to "describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text" (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3: Informational Text). One great way to get students to understand historical events in sequence and to see the connection between the events is to present them with biographies.

Biographies provide a built-in connection between events: the person who is the subject of the biography is the constant thread. Following the trajectory of an interesting person's life through historical events will help students to see the cause-and-effect behind these events.

Biographies also have the added benefit of allowing students to get a peek inside the motivations of a historical or public figure. While mainly a part of the Literature standards—which ask students to be able to describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3: Literature)—these skills cross-pollinate between literature and informational text. If students can practice discerning these qualities of a real-life person, it will become easier for them to transfer that skill to fictional characters in a work of literature.

The grade levels that require these skills in their Standards are grades 2–5; at this level, students are learning how to take newly fluent reading skills and apply them to extract dense information from text. To aid them in the practice of these skills, we have targeted our Biography Series to guided reading levels M–S, generally considered to be grade levels 2–4 (though striving readers up to grade 8 can appreciate the content).

Containing the key features of informational text, such as a table of contents, index, glossary, and captions, these biographies will allow students to improve their use of search-related text features and provide a sense of chronology with the inclusion of timelines (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R).

The personalities featured in the books come from diverse backgrounds, time periods, and topics of interest—from Mother Teresa to Muhammad Ali. Currently, we're working on updating the series to include individual teacher's guides for each book, with suggestions on how to use the text in the classroom and talking points to hit throughout and after the reading. These teacher's guides will be available for free download on our website. If you'd like to be notified when they are ready, click the book cover image below to sign up for notification. To download an information sheet on the series, click the image to the right. To purchase the books, click here for the series web page.

muhammad ali teacher's guide Biography Series Highlights

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Topics: Common Core, Biography Series, Reading Standards

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