Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanks for a Great Session at NCTE!

Thanks to our fantastic audience of engaged, passionate teachers who attended our session at NCTE today!

It was inspiring to see and talk to so many teachers who want to use informational texts to enhance their students' engagement with literary texts in rich and meaningful ways.

All of the materials we shared and mentioned during the session are posted on the NCTE Connected Community website.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Favorite Info Text Ideas from "Ripped From the Headlines" @NCTE

We just attended a great session presented by Katherine Schulten (@kschulten) from the New York Times Learning Network and New Jersey high school teacher Sarah Mulhern Gross (@thereadingzone) at NCTE.

Favorite ideas:
  • Use short bursts of informational text in connection with literary texts
  • "Times Topics" pages to find news, commentary, and archival articles on particular people, events, issues, etc. (example: Times Topics: Malala Yousafzai).
  • New "Text to Text" lesson plan format pairing informational texts from the NYT with commonly taught literary texts
  • Weekly "Poetry Pairings" connecting classic and contemporary poems with an informational text from the NYT
  • "What's Going on in This Picture?" -- students practice using evidence to support conclusions drawn about a visual text
  • 15-second vocabulary videos made by students to demonstrate definitions of words in creative and often funny ways
  • Have students plug vocabulary words into search box to see multiple uses of the words in a variety of informational texts
The bottom line: Use these resources to enhance your teaching of literature by integrating informational texts into your existing units. The Common Core does not mean giving up great literature!

Looking forward to presenting reading strategies for engaging students in informational texts in dialogue with literary texts. The first step is finding great pairings, like those featured above. The second step is to easing your students into negotiating these sometimes daunting and unfamiliar texts. Join us Saturday at NCTE at 1:15 in the Hynes Convention Center in Room 301 (I.38).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Using Informational Text to Teach Literature at NCTE!

We are looking forward to presenting strategies for creating rewarding connections between informational texts and great literature at NCTE in Boston this weekend.

Our session: "I.38: Incorporating Info Text Into the Teaching of To Kill a Mockingbird" is on Saturday from 1:15-2:30 in Room 301, Level Three, at the Hynes Convention Center. Add it to your personal convention planner via the NCTE website or the NCTE app.

For a sneak preview, download our presentation materials. At the session, we will be giving away flash drives with sample materials from Using Informational Text to Teach To Kill a Mockingbird.

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sample Units for Using Informational Text Now Available

For our first volume, Using Informational Text to Teach To Kill a Mockingbird, there was so much great stuff, we couldn’t fit it all into the book! It was tough to pick two chapters to leave out of the print version, but we had to cut the volume in size or face an unreasonable sales price.

The good news is we can share these materials with you immediately online. You can use them as you see fit (even before the publication of the print volume):

R. A. Craig: Common Diseases of Farm Animals

Claudia Durst Johnson, “Interview: A Perspective on the 1930s”

We look forward to hearing your thoughts and reactions. Let us know what works for you (and what doesn’t). Let us know your favorite sections and questions. And let us know of any ideas you have for how these units can be updated or expanded. If you like what you see, you can pre-order the full volume, which will be available in March 2014.

If you're attending NCTE, please attend our workshop on Saturday at 1:15pm, where we will be sharing strategies for finding great informational texts and making rewarding connections between them and the literature that you teach.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Using Informational Text to Teach To Kill a Mockingbird

We are pleased to announce the publication in March 2014 of Using Informational Text to Teach To Kill a Mockingbird. This volume is the first in a series we are writing for Rowman and Littlefield designed to allow teachers to integrate informational text into the classroom in a way that enhances, rather than takes away from, the study of literature.

Each volume in the series contains a variety of high-quality informational pieces tied to a frequently-taught anchor literary text. The informational texts are historically specific in their relation to the primary text, provide background to help students contextualize the work, or relate topically or thematically to the literary anchor text. 

Each informational text is presented as part of a comprehensive unit. The informational text is prepared in a student-friendly format, annotated with reading strategies and questions, and teachers can copy the articles for student use in the classroom (we have secured permissions). Units also include extensive vocabulary exercises to meet the increased emphasis on vocabulary acquisition in the Common Core, open-ended and multiple choice questions to prepare students for high-stakes testing, discussion and writing prompts, graphic organizers, scoring rubrics, group projects, and multimedia links. These readings and activities will not just provide background information for the anchor literary text, they will help your students put these texts into rich, rewarding dialogue that will enhance their critical thinking skills as well as their understanding of the literary text.

Meeting the demands of the Common Core State Standards requires time and effort. Our series is designed to help. The resources we have assembled and the activities we have prepared will make it easy to adjust and adapt to the Common Core while reinvigorating your teaching and your students’ engagement with To Kill a Mockingbird and with each of our anchor literary texts.

Stay tuned to our blog and follow us on Twitter as we share information from our first volume.  Always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions.