Using non-fiction in the classroom is a great tool to increase engagement and expose students to a wide variety of current issues and events that extend beyond the traditional fiction taught in most English classes.
This week’s Twitter chat was focused on using non-fiction texts to help students make real-world connections. Teachers shared their best ideas for making this a regular process in the English Language Arts classroom.
Q1: How do you use non-fiction texts and media in your classroom?
- We use non-fiction texts to complement fiction texts. We’re reading Tangerine=articles on muck fires & sinkholes a must.
- There’s always at least one nonfiction activity or assessment in every lit unit. We also do AoW and have NF-only units.
- Article of the Week is a weekly non-fiction writing assignment that helps expose students to more non-fiction writing on a regular basis.
Q2: What is your favorite resource for finding nonfiction texts that are timely and apply to teens?
- Fave places to find NF are NewsELA, @KellyGToGo AoW, https://t.co/TBl9MSLVFo daily article.
- My favorite resource for finding non-fiction texts is @Newsela Otherwise I google themes.
- Also trying to beef up NF in my classroom library & use excerpts as they relate to topics
- NewsELA all the way!!
- I start with the primary source or the closest thing to it – an author’s website, for example. Then CNN, BBC, etc.
- I also like to cover current events using these websites.
Q3: What short/long term benefits do you find from using nonfiction materials related to current events and real life issues?
- As much as I hope students read literature when older, they will mostly read NF so they should be prepped.
- As @davestuartjr says, students need to know stuff. Reading NF helps them to increase their knowledge base.
- Anytime I can relate school to real life, engagement increases exponentially!
- Current events aren’t always as popular unless it’s controversial.
- My middle school students are struggling with fake news and rumors, so the more time we spend on current events, the better!
Q4: How do you handle sensitive topics in the nonfiction materials you use in the classroom?
- Mostly trying to match the right NF book to the right reader and intercept a middle school student who isn’t ready for it.
- Even more important for us to address the sensitive topics so students get accurate info & safe place to ask Qs.
- I try to focus on the facts and leave out the emotions. That can be hard but is worth trying.
- I give students a “you’re mature enough to handle this” pep talk & that usually does the trick
- I’m remembering a heated discussion about fairness ala The Giver… where we had to think from the character’s perspective.
- Lots of success using restorative justice-type circles when discussing topics like racial profiling.
Q5: Describe your favorite lesson or unit that incorporates nonfiction material related to a current event or real life issue.
- I’m obsessed w/teaching propaganda & rhetoric to help students filter biased sources.
- Fave NF unit last yr was intro-ing rhetorical analysis. Started w/ commercials, then moved to excerpts, then whole text.
- I like to read short biographies related to a theme – like a famous person who shows perseverance. (Walt Disney)
- Then you can say “Let’s be like____ as we do this…”
- Ethos Pathos Logos ftw!
- We also had a lot of fun last yr. planning an imaginary vacay for our pine cone pets using non-fiction travel guides!
Article of the Week Differentiated Lesson Bundle
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