You pull out an informational text and a collective groan ripples across your classroom, and you’re groaning internally too because you know this isn’t going to be easy. What if I told you, I can help make those groans disappear and increase student engagement when reading informational texts? You’d be jumping for joy, right? Well, lucky for you, I have 3 easy ways to get your students to love reading informational texts!
Before using these tips, I dreaded having to teach my students about informational texts, and don’t even get me started on getting them to actually read it! Once, I started using these 3 strategies though, informational reading has become one of my favorite things to teach, and my students have a new appreciation for non-fiction!
Student Engagement tip 1: Use highly engaging topics
“This is boring!”
“I don’t want to read this!”
“This isn’t fun!”
Sound familiar? I know I used to hear it a lot in my classroom when I introduced an informational text. Somewhere along the line students learned to equate informational reading with boring.
Maybe it’s the writing style, maybe it’s the structure…OR maybe it’s the topics they have been told to read about!
Be honest. You don’t want to sit down and read a text that you think will be boring! As adults, we get to choose the texts we read, and unless absolutely necessary (ahem grad school), we can choose not to read an informational text if we don’t want to.
Guess what? Your students feel the same way! So, get them to ditch their complaints and give them highly engaging topics to read about!
Ways to pick highly engaging topics:
Choosing highly engaging topics for informational text doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little student involvement, you can make sure the topics are things your students will be excited to read about.
Some ways to choose highly engaging topics for your class include:
- Poll the class on their interests
- Cash in on kids’ innate sense of curiosity
- Stay current with pop culture
- Pay attention to the fictional texts that students are reading
Each of these things will clue you into some topics or people that your students will be interested in reading about. And . . . if you go with the first option your students will feel connected to the reading because they had a part in choosing the topic.
Introduce topics that help explain how the world works! As students get older they become more and more aware of the world around them and how it effects them. That’s what I love doing with my Famous Inventors Project!
Think like your students as you choose your non-fiction texts. And when all else fails look for something a little crazy, or even gross, to capture their attention!
Student Engagement tip 2: Connect reading to upcoming holidays
When it comes down to it, students are most often exposed to literary texts through read alouds in the classroom, independent reading and even reading at home. So, the majority of students have become comfortable with that type of reading. They know what to expect and there’s a sense of comfort in reading fiction stories.
When reading informational texts, they are introduced to a whole new structure of writing which can make engaging with this type of text harder. And there’s generally more thinking involved in reading informational texts. That’s why I suggest connecting the reading to upcoming holidays!
By introducing a familiar and often exciting topic like a holiday, you are giving students a chance to use their background knowledge as they dive into the informational text. Giving them this scaffold can greatly increase student engagement when reading. They don’t have to navigate an unfamiliar topic AND an unfamiliar text structure at the same time.
Plus, holidays are fun and often have very interesting backgrounds, making utilizing them in your informational texts a win-win!
Check out how I use holidays when teaching informational texts during Black History Month and for Presidents’ Day!
Student Engagement tip 3: Create an informational yearbook
Now that you have captured students’ interests, you have to keep students engaged while reading the entire text.
Informational texts are often denser and harder to read than literary texts which means your students might get fatigued and lose interest sooner than other types of reading.
No worries though! Give your students an engaging activity to complete while reading or after reading.
Giving them an activity to complete will help them focus on the information that is most important in the text and help keep their interest level up when they are in the thick of it!
One of my favorite ways to do this is to have my students complete a Yearbook Project! By engaging students with a unique final product they won’t be focused on the reading.
Students read short related articles, usually about people. Students then summarize their reading and design a yearbook to house all of their information. These make great resources to review information, show parents what they have been working on, and compare with their classmates!
Go Get them engaged!
Even though you may be hearing groans when you pull out informational texts now, you won’t hear them for much longer when you try out these 3 strategies to help increase your students’ engagement!
Give these high-interest informational texts a try in your classroom with this FREE Amelia Earhart resource.
Looking for more ready-to-use informational text resources? Check out these No Prep Informational Texts that are perfect for your upper elementary students.
Famous Inventors Biographies informational texts
Introduce your upper elementary and middle school students to famous inventors with these Famous Inventors Biographies.
These science reading comprehension passages and questions are the perfect way to connect science, social studies, and reading!
With inventors like Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, Marie Curie, and Bill Gates just to name a few, you are sure to find your students engaged and having fun while reading the informational text.
You could even have an “inventor of the month” and focus on one of these famous inventors every month.
You can even extend these engaging reading passages with some writing too! Have your students write a mini-play about the character based on the informational text. Or have them modernize the inventor and write a fictional story based on the information text about how that person would perceive the world today.
U.S. Presidents Yearbook Informational texts
Students will learn about the history of the United States of America Presidents in these informational texts. Putting all of their knowledge about these U.S. Presidents together in a Presidential Yearbook will be super fun for your class. It’s also a great display piece for your classroom or hallway.
Turn these informational texts into a bigger project by assigning a different president to each of your students. Plan a show and tell day near President’s Say and have your students dress up like and bring in items their president may have used or had during their presidency.
They will have a blast acting like their character and will also be teaching their classmates about these famous American Presidents in the process.
Black History Biographies and Yearbook informational texts
Celebrate Black History Month this February with Black History biographies and a yearbook!
Your students will love learning about influential people like Hallie Barrie, George Washington Carver, Will Smith, and The Tuskegee Airmen just to name a few.
Your students will love creating their very own Black History Yearbook using the biographies in these engaging Black History Month reading passages!
These yearbooks are perfect to put on display in the school in February for Black History Month.
Save these Informational Texts Resources
Save these tips and ideas for engaging your students with informational texts by pinning this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board.
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