Current Unit: Tackling Complexity – Moving Up the Levels
The world around us is full of information and every job that exists or will exist relies on our ability to navigate and gain knowledge. Lucky for us nonfiction has evolved greatly in the last fifteen years. Gone are the dry fact books of the past. We are now surrounded by high quality images, creative and catchy headings and pop out facts, and the very highest standards of writing, that must not just inform, but hold our attention as well. In short, good nonfiction can actually be called literature. But it does come with its challenges – it is complex and it will take many strategies to navigate it.
Walk into reading a nonfiction book with the expectations of the genre in mind. The more you go in expecting, the more you will notice and walk away with.
Orient yourself to the text first, but then hold those first ideas loosely and be open to changing your understanding as you read on.
Texts become complex when titles and headings are misleading, there are multiple main ideas, ideas are implicitly stated, the vocabulary becomes technical, and hybrid text structures are used.
Work in chunks –read a section and jot down the big idea, read another section – find another idea. Then, examine how those ideas fit together to form an overall main idea.
If you don't know a word – don't just read past it. Look around the word, what clues can you gather about its meaning. Look in the word – are there parts of the word you recognize?
Monitor your comprehension – when understanding breaks down, own it and figure out what tool might help get you back on track.
Summaries – what is the big takeaway that the text wants you to understand and what categories/kinds of information help prove this. This is not the place to get bogged down in super specific details.
Current Unit: The Lens of History - Research Reports
This unit will have us applying all the things we have learned about good nonfiction to our own writing. In the early days of it, we will be brainstorming what subtopics might fall under the topic of the American Revolution. From there, we will be learning how to research, gather notes, organize information so that it can be categorized into multiple main ideas. From there it is onto figuring out just what point you want your reader to come to understand about your topic. We're digging for history's truths here, and we are going to go to the writing extremes to do it!
How do we organize a bunch of randomly gathered facts into a coherent piece of writing? (Post-its and paper will play a starring role)
What role does geography play in history? For this unit, we are both writer's and historians, which means writing well and acknowledging what influences history.
Writing to Think – How do we push our thinking so that we are able to explain the significance of facts.
An awareness of timelines and how historical events interacts is crucial to understanding how history, and there for our writing needs to unfold.
Figuring out which text structures will support and showcase the points we are trying to make.
How can we use text features well in order to attract and help readers?
How do craft introductions that both hook readers and prepare them for the journey ahead?
How do we craft conclusions that solidify our point and leave readers with a parting thought?