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