Thursday, July 17, 2014

Disrupting the Balance

One of the six shifts in the 2011 Massachusetts Frameworks is the greater emphasis of informational texts throughout grade spans. The frameworks anticipate that students in K-3 will be equally balancing their instruction between fiction and informational texts. As students move into middle school, suddenly the demand shifts, asking students to read about 55% informational titles. This balance tips as they enter into high school. Approximately 75% of the content students are expected to read should be informational. K-5 classrooms are filled with narratives and fiction texts, while middle and high school curriculum focuses on literary fiction works of art. So how can educators integrate and access complex grade appropriate nonfiction to address this shift?

One resource to help educators find complex and interesting nonfiction texts can be found at the end of the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Following the glossary, A Literary Heritage has an extensive list organized by grade level and then separated by genre. This list of exemplar titles is a great place to begin looking for high quality texts one can integrate into their instruction.  

A second resource can be found by subscribing to Nonfiction  Monday, a blog that is updated regularly by a group of contributors focused on providing titles and a quick synopsis of new and existing informational titles. Texts include a range of nonfiction- from informational poetry to the latest book by Gail Gibbons. What is refreshing about this site is that it is not run by authors pushing their latest and greatest title, rather by educators and librarians- true book enthusiasts who want to educate others and keep them up to date on nonfiction books.

Finally, check out the School Library Journal article.  Here you can find a list of informational titles all aligned to a specific standard for teachers to reference.  There are many resources out there filled with fantastic texts just waiting to be put into students’ hands. Now that summer is in full swing, take some time to explore these titles. You may come across one that would be a perfect fit in your classroom.   

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