Why Teach Non-Fiction in Middle School?

 

Learn about why using non-fiction in middle school is a great way to engage your students and have meaningful assignments.

It is very important to teach non-fiction in middle school. 

Fiction literature is a favourite in many literature classrooms while non-fiction selections often take a backseat.  

And while fiction is a great option for many reasons and in many situations, non-fiction has merits as well that are often overlooked or ignored.  

Let’s talk about three reasons why non-fiction should play a significant role in what you teach.

Why Teach Non-Fiction In Middle School

Reason One: Because You Have To

No matter how you feel about it, non-fiction is a required part of almost every language arts curriculum. You have to teach it. But approaching nonfiction as strictly a requirement, a “let’s just get this over with so we can get to the good stuff sort of situation” shortchanges nonfiction literature.  

Anything worth teaching is worth teaching well, so figuring out how to approach this required curriculum element is important.  If you are looking for interesting topics check out this non-fiction article bundle that includes engaging topics such as Self-Driving Cars, the Bermuda Triangle and School Uniforms. You could also try using an article of the week approach that might be a good option for you to consider.

Reason Two: Because It Is a Good Life Skill

Regardless of what they read during their free time, the vast majority of materials that most adults read in their everyday lives fall into the non-fiction category.  Creating familiarity and ease with non-fiction materials – be they news articles, informational texts, or anything else – is, therefore, an important life skill. The critical thought, source analysis, and reading for information that teaching non-fiction texts can set your students up for success with non-fiction materials later in life.

Reason Three: Because It Draws People In

Biography, autobiography, and even well-written news articles have a special appeal. The stories non-fiction tells are real – real people, real events, real outcomes. For many people – some of your students included – this aspect of truth makes the stories more engaging than even the best-written fiction and in ways that fiction can never be. Recognizing this draw and including non-fiction texts in your class opens the world of literature and engages with a segment of your student body that you otherwise would be left out of.

After students have a biography, memoir or autobiography have them complete this Biography Symbolism Assignment. In this assignment, students will read a biography, memoir or autobiography and then create a life map outlining the important events in their chosen person’s life. After creating the life map students will provide a written explanation and oral presentation of their life map.

Reason Four: Non-Fiction Can Be Audio

As students get older they will also be exposed to non-fiction audio in the form of talk radio or podcasts. It is important to give students the opportunity to engage with these text types to see if they enjoy this format. 

An easy way to get students working with non-fiction audio is using short podcast segments in your ELA program. In this Podcast Listening Comprehension Lesson Bundle, teachers are provided with 12 engaging listening comprehension lessons based on high-interest podcast segments about consumers, companies and marketing. These ready-to-go no-prep listening comprehension lessons are perfect for middle school ELA classes. Students will love that these lessons examine marketing techniques that are used to target them as consumers. These lessons can also be used as sub plans, asynchronous work, homework or in-class independent work.

As you design and implement your language arts curriculum, don’t forget to focus on non-fiction materials. These texts can be a very valuable and necessary component of a comprehensive and challenging curriculum.  

Including non-fiction texts in a productive and thoughtful manner can add depth and interest to your class. It is important to find a way to enjoy teaching non-fiction in middle school.

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