Tuesday, March 23, 2010

About Reader's Workshop: Introducing Information

For the next six days that I am at school, I want the students to get some information. More specifically, I want them to delve into the world of informational (non-fiction) books.

I've come to the realisation that I've been giving informational books the rough end of the pineapple, so to speak. Sure, they're there in my classroom, but I don't spend a lot of time on them. They're kind of hidden, up behind the desks. We don't talk about them, or promote them nearly enough.

Personally, I love informational books. Some of the best books I've read in the last year have been teaching books. I went through a stage of devouring information books written about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and later Spooks). And when I was little, I used to sleep with my great big book of Questions and Answers. But, sadly, I feel that their use in the classroom has been hindered by their availability (the reading level seems to jump from year 3/4 to upper ends of highschool in a lot of cases) and their cost. Personally I wish there were more books written like Who Was Abraham Lincoln? and Who Was Amelia Earhart? which are short, but written at the perfect level for the students I teach.

But, we do have them in the classroom, so I'm going to go out of my way in the next six days to promote them. Here's some of the ways I'm going to do that:

  1. Book talk, book talk, book talk. I'm going to try to introduce at least one new book a day. I also want to point out some of the differences in reading informational books as we go through them.
  2. Challenge - I'm going to challenge the students to find an informational book, either in the classroom or the library, which they enjoy and learn something from.
  3. Personal experience - I'm going to ask students to write a personal book letter about finding an informational book (either now or in their past)
  4. Book bundling - I'm going to work off the popularity of certain books. Like Percy Jackson? Well read some more about Ancient Greece and Greek myths! Enjoying CHERUB or Young Bond? Why don't you try these books about spies? Reading WW2 historical fiction? Try some of these books about the second world war.
  5. Committing to buying some more informational books - I might even work on this with some of the children as 'book buying experts' - I'll give them a budget, and a couple of websites and ask them to make the choices.
For a really great blog post on informational books, check out Reading Countess

Read more about Reader's Workshop Here


Reading Countess said...

Great post! I like your idea about pairing an informational text with a fiction partner. I think teachers can get a lot of mileage when done that way. You also make a valid point about the real estate in your room. Placing books in a certain area (of importance) in your room signals to the readers how high up on the hierachy you place the text.

A Reader's Community said...

I've put a couple of boxes of great non-fiction at the front of the room and there's been some real takers in there. A number of them are interested in Ancient History at the moment (thank you Percy Jackson) which I actually have a lot of, so those have been popular, as well as a couple of other history books.

We also covered a big piece of paper in all the topics we'd like to read about - some great ideas in there.

I'm thinking I might 'decentralise' the room again next term which would bring the focus back to the books - will have to think about it though :)

I'm bundling tomorrow . . .

A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

Reader's Workshop Tools - resources you can access and use to help you with reader's workshop

Book talks - Book recommendations of two or three books centred around a particular theme

Book letters - in-depth reviews of one particular book

Reader's Workshop Links - Short links lists to help you find more information
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