Reading Non-fiction (integrating non-fiction throughout your reading lessons)
(Taken from Reading Reconsidered by Doug Lemov)
We want our students to read more non-fiction in a way that makes it relevant and engaging, and to increase the amount of knowledge our students absorb when reading it.
Absorption Rate & Embedding Non-fiction: Read non-fiction texts in context. Combine a related fiction and non-fiction topic--students should read multiple texts on a topic e.g. have students read an article that gives context to or elaborates on ideas from a novel you are reading. The Primary Text is the book that is lengthy usually a novel. Secondary Texts give context, build background knowledge, and help students better understand the primary text. Students that start with a base of knowledge make inferences that allow them to be more attentive to the emotions of the characters and the factual information presented in the fictional text.
Maximizing Embedded Non-Fiction
Cutting And Adapting: It is okay to prioritize and shape the non-fiction by excerpting or rewriting sections to help increase clarity.
Overlapping Questions: Deliberately ask questions that cause your students to connect the secondary and primary texts. e.g. "Would ______'s experience be considered "unfair" according to the experts? Also while reading your novel, ask questions that refer back to your non-fiction secondary text or, while reading the secondary text, ask students to apply it to previous scenes from the novel.
Frequent Embedding: You can embed many diverse examples of non-fiction while reading a novel, not just one at the beginning. You could reread texts (both secondary and primary) a second time--read part of a secondary text and then continue with your primary text, only to reread the secondary text after the primary text--or you could reread a picture book, or excerpt from your novel after you have read the secondary text.
Embedding With Other Genres: Embed poetry, songs lyrics, and excerpts from other fiction texts to help students understand the primary text better.
Meta-Embedding: Teachers can embed articles as a tool or framework for interpreting many texts throughout the year. You would refer to the article again and again using it as a lens for analyzing new texts. For example an article that presents a frame for students to analyze characters who had similar character qualities.
Building Background Knowledge
Using Fiction: Intentionally ask knowledge based questions that can build knowledge, especially with historical fiction texts.
Embedding Non-Printed Texts: Use a quick video, series of photographs.
Embedding Out Loud: Teachers can read a shorter more difficult secondary text aloud (all or part of it) and then the students could read it themselves a second time in order to increase familiarity with a topic.
Batch Processing: In Science class for example when you are not reading a fiction text, read two or three articles on a single topic to increase students' absorption rates.
So much to consider! Now I'm thinking about a Whole Class Reading Unit I would like to plan using "The One And Only Ivan" and how well I will be able to embed non-fiction articles with this book! Stay Tuned!