Switching Gears: From Fiction to Non-Fiction

We've been knee deep in fiction from the beginning of the year. It's just the way our curriculum is laid out. We do all this awesome work and then BAM everything changes. It is a welcome change; it helps doing the same genre for both reading and writing. But it just feels like a huge swing and it's such a short amount of time we have. So we did lots of end of unit assessments and tried to have a little fun too with these character report cards! It was perfect timing since students were getting their own report cards too for our first tri.

They picked a character from their series that they knew a lot about and drew them. Then, they picked different traits and had to give them a grade using text evidence or "comments." They loved that they got to be called "Mr." or "Ms./Miss." I modeled how to create their character peeking over the top with Amber Brown. Do you recognize any of the others above? We've got Judy Moody, Junie B. and Sam from the Time Warp Trio! We also had Frog and Toad, Stink, and Ready Freddy to name a few. They did a really nice job on them!

But then, it was a swift shift to nonfiction! Here's all that we've done this week in both reading and writing!
Text Features during Read Aloud

We started our text feature anchor chart during read aloud. Students also made their text feature flip book (check out my previous post on it) and they are coming in handy!! I thought my students knew these text features pretty well coming in, but I was mistaken. So I'm really glad that not only are we building this chart, but they are creating their own resource to help remind them.

Note-taking is big in both areas right now. This chart was made for Writer's Workshop since we launched our informational research writing on rain forest animals. This helps double duty though for when we are stopping and jotting in reading on our RAN graphic organizer. We had quite a few students who were copying word for word from books so we needed this lesson and S.T.A.T. They got the hang of it quickly and they'll get lots of practice!

We spent the whole week 'REVVING' up our minds and getting ready to read nonfiction books. I kept my little motorcycle graphic from last year and just stuck it to this chart. This work has been really beneficial this week as we've gotten into our own nonfiction books. Stating our purpose as to why we are reading that book helps us determine important facts vs. interesting (or it will- soon). Previewing reinforces the importance of text features and helps us predict what that section will be about so we can confirm our thinking or revise it. I took questioning a new way this year. I still used a matrix, but the focus wasn't so much on how to write a question, but WHY we were asking that question. We noticed a lot of our questions before reading a section were questions that would check our learning (What is... Why did... How did...). Most of our questions during reading fell into the "learn more" category (What would... Why would...  How would...). Questions after reading a section were often to challenge our thinking (What might... Why might... How might...)

Preparing to Read Nonfiction

It took us all week, but we'll revisit this chart often the next 12 days to make sure we are focused.

The last thing... well... don't laugh at me.

We had to make a desk map for what our desk looks like during independent reading time. There is just too much we have out on our desks and we waste so much time going through it all. And the organizer in me just was loosing patience. So we made a map of how our desk should look and now all I need to say is,

"Get your desk ready for our reading block."

And students reference the map and get their materials ready to go in 90 seconds or under. So far- it's working like a CHARM! It's saving our sacred reading time, allowing for faster transitions, and freeing up time for important things like sharing about our reading.

Organizing it All
Have I mentioned that "organized" is a character trait my students used to describe me? They know me so well...

Well, it was a whirlwind with lots of new changes, but I'm excited for these next 12 days! We start hitting main idea and detail next week (I started a bit last week with some small groups) and judging by the pre-assessment I made and used on Friday, I think we'll be very successful!


1 comment

  1. Those character report cards look like so much fun! I love every single one of those anchor charts! I really like the trash vs. treasure chart- that is such an useful skill that they will need for years to come. I had to giggle just a little when I saw your desk organization chart... only because I was picturing just how disorganized their desks must have been before you created the chart. It truly is a great idea, though! I can't wait to read about the other things you teach your third graders during this unit!


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