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Informational Text

Learning About Bats

Informational Text, Reading, Report Writing, Thinking Maps
I can’t believe it’s been an entire month since I last posted. I keep wanting to blog about different things we’re doing in the classroom, but time has been flying by! So, I’m trying to get back on the blogging bandwagon now…
The last 2 days we’ve been researching and learning about bats.  We read two informational books about bats and also watched a Brainpop video on bats. 

Then, we used a tree map to keep track of our research information.  We used the format  Bats – can, have, and are…

After completing the tree maps, the kids started writing their All About Bats paper that I got from Anna Brantley’s Common Core – Writing All Year Long 2nd Grade. I love this packet and have used it for many different things!
Below is a kiddo who I am super proud of. This student doesn’t enjoy reading and writing and often turns in writing assignments with one or two sentences.  He filled up the first page (written beautifully and well) and is now on page 3. He was so excited to write about bats he wanted to keep going! I love it!

Thanks for stopping by to see what we’ve done with bats. I promise to try to be better about blogging regularly.

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All About Penguins Book

Common Core, Informational Text, Thinking Maps, Writing

Our most recent National Geographic Kids focused on penguins lend itself nicely to a little penguin unit study.  We researched penguins using a Brainpop clip, reading our awesome Nat Geo which provided a lot of great info for my 2nd graders, and using a few nonfiction easy readers.  After reading/watching, we’d add facts to our penguin circle maps. Then, after our circle maps were full of wonderful penguin facts we then moved them into a tree map to organize our facts.  For our penguin tree map, we had four branches – looks like, lives, eat, and predators.  The kids organized their facts under the specific branches to make writing their penguin book easier.  I decided to focus the kiddos instead of just letting them write. I’m finding on report writing at 2nd grade level in a highly ELL population, we’re really struggling at knowing what to write, how to sequence, and how to focus on important information, so I’m using this writing assignment as a way to scaffold their learning.

Here’s our tree map and planning…


Below are some pictures of their finished books…..

**Sorry for the sideways pictures, BlogSpot and my computer weren’t working with me :-).

Text Features Anchor Chart

Anchor Charts, Common Core, Informational Text, Reading

Over the first half of the year in 2nd grade, we have spent a lot of time working with informational text.  While some of the text features have been easy for the kids to identify and use, some have been more difficult.  So one morning we worked together to make a Text Features Anchor chart using clippings from National Geographic for Kids, Time for Kids, and the regular Time Magazine.  What I love about this is the kids have been referring to it while on their text features hunt at literacy stations.  I love anchor charts for this very reason and it’s even better when the kids remember to refer to it on their own!

Weather Books

Anchor Charts, Common Core, Informational Text, Report Writing, Thinking Maps

I’m a little/lot late in blogging about this, but I still had to share. In September, my 2nd graders and I did an informational text study on weather. We focused on clouds, sunlight, rain, and snow.  We read informational books (there are some great weather informational books written by Erin Edison), watched clips on Brainpop Jr., and shared background knowledge.  After learning about the type of weather, we created a circle map with facts we learned. Then, we turned the circle maps into an informational book about weather that we wrote together. Since we’ve been studying informational text and text features we also included a table of contents and headings into our books. Here’s a ton of pictures of our work.

Here are our circle maps that we created with the information we learned from the books and the Brainpop videos.

Here the students are working on their own circle maps of information using the information learned and the information we put on our class circle map.
Here are the finished products! They are turned out great and the kids loved how they were able to write their own book about weather that looked just like the ones we read in class.



Using Time for Kids to Learn About Bats

Informational Text, Nonfiction, Reading, Thinking Maps

We are very lucky and have a Time for Kids subscription for each class at our school.  Time for Kids is a great way to incorporate informational text, learn about text features, and write informational responses.  On Friday, we read the recent Time for Kids issue about bats. 

As we were reading, we talked about text features.  We spent time looking at the headings, fact box, glossary, photographs, and captions, and the kids are starting to pick up the text features on their own.  When we were done we started a circle map about bats and added the facts learned from Time for Kids. After adding those facts, we read an informational book about Bats. Then, we added more facts. The kiddos loved learning all of the cool things about bats and the pictures in both the article and book were awesome.



White House – American Symbols Unit

Informational Text, Report Writing, Social Studies, Thinking Maps

So our first grade team took on a huge project and it went so well! American Symbols is one of our social studies standards and with the huge increase in informational text we decided to create a huge unit on it.  Each teacher took a symbol – White House, Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, American Flag, and Bald Eagle. Then, we came up with a PowerPoint, books to use, stations etc.  My symbol was the White House – see my ideas below…

First, I started out by showing this fun video of a student interviewing President Obama. I started off by telling the kids that we had a mystery symbol today and they had to guess what it was.  They loved the suspense and love the video. The video was about 10 minutes long so I picked out the appropriate parts that I thought they would enjoy. 

Next, we watched a PowerPoint that I made on the White House. This PowerPoint focused on the main facts that I wanted my first graders to come away knowing.  After the PowerPoint, we started a whole group circle map putting up details from the PowerPoint.  Then, we read a nonfiction book about the White House and again added more facts. 

See our White House Class Circle Map….

After working our class circle map, the kids made their own that they added to throughout the day.  Then, it was time to move on to our White House Stations.
Station #1 – Informational Text
Students looked through a variety of White House books (different text levels) and added more facts to their circle maps. 
Station #2 – Writing Activity
Students write a story about what life would be like if they lived in the White House.
Station #3 – Word Search
Students highlight the presidential words.

Station #4 – World Book Kids Article
Students read a White House article printed from World Book Kids online and highlighted key facts.

Station #5 – White House Virtual Tour

The White House has a great website with a virtual tour of the White House. The kids can see a map of the White House and see pictures and information on the various rooms. This is a kid favorite station!

After completing their circle maps, on day #2, the kids wrote a report on the White House using their circle map information. 
Once we were all complete with our report on each symbol, students picked their favorite symbol to do a technology project on using the program “Frames.” Our wonderful district Ed Tech is helping us out with this. 
So, overall, this symbols project incorporates – reading standards, writing standards, social studies standards, listening and speaking standards, and technology standards.  Love it!
Below are some student circle maps…

Day #1 – Nonfiction/Informational Text Study

Debbie Miller, Informational Text, Nonfiction

So I was so excited for today’s first day of informational text and it went better than I could have imagined. The kids really got into it and it was so fun seeing them so excited about learning.  As they were looking through their nonfiction book piles they couldn’t stop talking about all the neat things they saw.  There was a lot of “Miss V, come look at this!” What more could I ask for!

For our first day of nonfiction/informational text study, I followed Debbie Miller’s plan that she laid out in her book, Reading with Meaning.  Before even introducing text features or nonfiction conventions, she suggests giving the kids a chance to explore.  So, on each table I had a bin of nonfiction books. There were sports books, animal books, weather books, truck books, social studies books, etc.  I allowed the kids about five to ten minutes just to explore.

Book Bins:


Exploration Time:
Then, after exploration time, I brought them down to the carpet to talk about asking questions. I started off by asking if any of them had questions that came up as they were looking at their informational text.  Most students said they did.  Then, I showed them the index cards and explained that the index cards could be used as a place to write down their questions or things they are wondering about as they explore nonfiction (another Debbie Miller idea – wonder cards).  Then, as we learn about informational text we can later answer those questions.  The kids loved this! I gave them another ten minutes to write down questions they had and they got busy. 
Below are some examples of questions they came up with:
Why do some animals have lots of legs?
Does wind move clouds?
Why do dolphins jump over the water?
Tomorrow we are going to dive into text features starting with photographs.  I’ll update on that lesson tomorrow night.