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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Slice of Non-fiction

My school district is looking into using the writing units being written by another county.  This year, as we look into them, knowing we will "pilot" the units fully next school year, we were asked to dabble in a unit or two to get a taste of what the units feel like.  The units we are looking at adopting are aligned to the Common Core and also align with some of what we already do in my district so we feel confident that although using a new, set curriculum is a big change, it is a doable change.

To get my feet wet with the new writing units, I decided I would try the How To unit and the Non-fiction Personal Expertise unit this year.  I have already posted here about my How To unit.  So, into personal expertise I go!

This past week I began the immersion phase of the unit.  During this phase, I formally introduced my students to non-fiction books.  We spent a whole week pouring over a variety of non-fiction books looking for and discovering text features that are important to non-fiction.  As we found text features, we created an anchor chart for the classroom.  Here is what our finished chart looks like.

The ideas for this chart came from a couple of great pinterest finds.  Please check out:

Joyful Learning in KC and Second Grade Style for more information and some of the bits and pieces that I used for my classroom chart.

I used some of the labels and definitions from Joyful Learning in KC and copied some pieces we found in our own non-fiction books to add to the chart.  Why reinvent the wheel, right?

Second Grade Style had a great chart set up and "why" section...so I borrowed those as well.

My students, though only kindergarten age, can not only read this chart (because we built it together) but can also find the text features within our mentor texts in the classroom because they have had so much experience with them over this past week.  I have been very happy with the effort my students have been putting into learning these text and they have been very excited to dig into the non-fiction books that they love so much.

This week, we will begin to do the research portion of our non-fiction unit (a piece I added to the unit to help me meet common core requirements).  Once the research is completed, we will begin to write our own non-fiction books.

My plan is to have my students choose a critter (animal, insect, reptile) and then match them up with useful resources about their critter of choice.  They will get a couple of days to read and learn about their critter (I'll help as needed with the reading since our books are at various levels and some students may choose a critter that has resources that are at a higher reading level than he/she can manage independently).  Once we finish our research portion, we will begin to work on writing our own books using as many of the non-fiction text features as are appropriate for their books.

I'm really looking forward to these next phases of researching and writing.  I'll post more along the way!  Stay tuned!


  1. It sounds terrific, Robin. You might also find some additional info from the Fontas & Pinnell Genre Study work-some is online at Heinemann! I'm so excited you'll be at the All-Write conference! What a great time it will be!

  2. I think your chart is great! Here's another site you might check out: http://kreativeinkinder.blogspot.com/2012/04/writers-workshop-creating-all-about.html
    Your kids will have so much fun learning. I can't wait to see the progress along the way.