Friday, October 12, 2012

Determining Importance in Nonfiction

(I'm reposting this to K-2 in case anyone in K or 2 has some ideas to share :)

The question came up yesterday about helping students to understand what information needs to go in their piece about first grade. They have been gathering a lot of information, making lists, captions, labels, etc. but the next step would be to pair down the information. The homework idea about asking someone at home what they would want to know is one way to go about this, but if it doesn't go home until next week, it would be too late if they are ready now. Developmentally, it is too hard for your students to "imagine" what they think someone would want to know, so it needs to be much more concrete. 
Some ideas:

  • Shared writing: tell your students about something that you did and have them ask questions so that you know what they want to know. Make sure to list the questions that they ask. If you do this with a few different activities of your own, they will begin to see that they ask similar questions each time. 
  • Have them ask someone in school- either their buddy class, another teacher or a friend in another grade- to see what they would want to know.
  • As you read mentor texts and discuss determining importance, make sure to list the categories of important information included in the text. Again, they will begin to see the patterns.
  • Don't be afraid to give them specific categories to focus on if they need it! It is perfectly ok to say that each page needs to say: Something about the teacher for that class, the materials used, describe a few activities, etc.  You can decide as a class what 3-4 things need to be on each page and then they can come up with a few more independently. 
Do you have other ideas? Photos of charts or lists of questions your children came up with? Share them :)

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