We started by brainstorming what we knew about informational texts and I got lots of what you would expect...
- "true stuff"
- tables of contents
- an index and glossary
You get the picture.
So...as someone who is more than a little addicted to looking at books, I knew very well that MANY informational texts do NOT have all or even SOME of these features, so I decided to run a little test with my class. I went to our library and checked out about 100 informational books to keep in our room for the next few weeks so I could really immerse the kids in the genre. Kids BY NATURE love nonfiction, so I looked to get a huge assortment of books on topics from tarantulas to ballet to monster trucks.
I then went through and deliberately picked some that did NOT look like "traditional" information books--books that didn't have the expected text features as listed above.
These books had everything from drawings to cartoon characters to what one might call "narrative" format. We looked at all of them together and worked to see how sometimes information texts might not look the way we expect them to look.
I then plopped piles of books on each desk group and asked the students to spend some time together looking at the books and checking to see what features they included and which they did not. They sorted the books into piles of "traditional" information books that they felt were obviously nonfiction and those that were trickier!
The students had a blast, realized that "narrative nonfiction" and graphic picture books very well might be informational texts, and found a bunch of new books they were super excited to read!
It was a great way to get them thinking critically about what this genre involves--and we will be digging in much deeper over the next weeks!
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