Reading is a tough challenge for many students, and informational texts are far from an exception to the rule. Informational texts can often present more of a challenge because they are often dense and less engaging. Luckily, there are a couple of ways we can make informational texts accessible to students: finding informational texts our students will enjoy reading and utilizing reading strategies for informational texts that support students.
To make things simple, I created a Close Reading Lesson Plans freebie with a 3 Day, 4 Day, and 5 Day plan that you can use with any informational text. Each plan contains the reading strategies for informational texts your students need to be successful, and the lesson chunks the skills into manageable portions for students!
Importance of Informational Texts
Informational texts are super important for students because they are often real-world texts! Think textbooks, news, biographies, and more. Students will likely have to read informational texts in their future careers (like professional development books or research) and will most certainly need to read nonfiction texts in high school and college.
Aside from that, it’s also important to consider the role informational texts play in the current lives of our elementary students. As students make the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn,” they are expected to read and make meaning from all sorts of informational text sources. They must read textbooks, district and state tests, and articles in all content areas.
According to Reading Rockets, research shows that early elementary students prefer nonfiction texts, but once they reach fourth grade – when they are expected to read and learn from textbooks and other informational texts – there is a big dip in reading scores overall. The researchers suggested exposing students to more informational texts earlier might minimize the “fourth grade slump” or drop in reading scores.
In other words, it’s normal for students to experience struggles and disinterest in the informational text as they grow. And in order to combat these negative effects, we need to use successful reading strategies for informational texts.
#1 Close Reading
Close reading is a tried and true way to build confident readers. The purpose of close reading is to encourage the careful reading of a text. Rather than skimming through, students are taught to be thoughtful about the text, look for certain words or details, and even jot down parts they don’t understand.
You’ll notice that in the Close Reading Lesson Plan Freebie, the first thing students do is engage in close reading! You can read more about what’s involved in close reading on this blog.
#2 Graphic Organizers
After close reading, it’s time to dig a little deeper! Graphic organizers can aid students’ comprehension and help them make sense of the text. Graphic organizers serve many different roles for students. For example, students can use them to visualize, organize, and process the information being presented to them in the text.
For example, a great activity to do with graphic organizers is to have students identify and organize the main idea and details. Using graphic organizers as one of your reading strategies for informational texts can be a huge support to students, especially your visual learners.
#3 Practice Independently
Both the close reading and the graphic organizer reading strategies for informational texts can be completed in small groups or as partner work. However, after students have had the opportunity to practice with support, it’s important that they also practice independently.
Independent practice gives students the chance to showcase what they have learned and helps you assess students’ comprehension and reading abilities.
During independent learning, have students reread the text by themselves and ask questions if needed. Then, ask students to summarize what they read. They can do this in a discussion format at a teacher group or by having students respond in writing. It’s likely that students will be completing written responses to informational texts during state tests, so practicing throughout the year is key.
There are tons of informational texts out on the internet, but many of them are just plain boring or not written specifically for elementary students. I wanted to share some informational texts that were written with students in mind, plus are easy to use with the reading strategies for informational texts we’ve talked about.
High Interest Close Reading – These texts cover topics that will really engage elementary students, like earwax, boogers, scabs and blisters, and even the age-old question: why do our baby teeth fall out? Your students will laugh and learn at the same time!
Women in Science Texts – This resource has biographies highlighting women who made important contributions to science, like Ada Bryon Lovelace, Marie Curie, Grace Hopper, Margaret Hamilton, Sally Ride, and 23 others! These texts are a great way to inspire your science lovers.
What is a Scientist? Text – This resource has 14 different informational texts about various science-related career paths like archaeology, botany, neuroscience, marine biology, and oceanography. Students will love learning about all of the different types of scientists and what they study.
5th Grade Science Informational Texts Bundle – This massive bundle has texts that cover all of the science standards for 5th grade. You’ll find texts about every science topic you can think of, including energy, magnets, types of animals, metamorphosis, the human body, and even space!
Holiday Informational Texts – This bundle is the perfect one to pull out throughout the school year. You’ll find 17 texts about different national holidays and why we celebrate them.
Teaching students to engage with informational texts is critical. By using these reading strategies for informational texts, you will set your students up to have a successful relationship with nonfiction. Be sure to grab the Close Reading Lesson Plan Freebie and get access to a 3 Day, 4 Day, and 5 Day plan you can apply to any informational text!
If you’re looking for ideas to increase engagement and introduce more reading strategies for informational texts, read strategies for increasing engaging with nonfiction texts.