1. Teaching Ideas

Non-Fiction and Informational Texts

We know that readers of nonfiction books do an extra-brainy, intense kind of thinking. Readers pay attention to details and think, “How can I put together what I am seeing, to grow ‘knowledge’ about this topic?”

As readers, we don’t just grab on to one detail that we notice. We look at all the different parts of the page, and the text, as we try to put what we are learning together in our minds. Instead of ‘glancing’ at the diagrams, we need to look closely at the details. Then, put what we know together to build a deeper understanding.

We can go back to the text to find the facts that are most connected to the idea.

Reading Strategy: We can use Pictures, Illustrations, and Diagrams

Illustrations give clues about the meaning of words and text. Paying attention to the pictures may confirm the meaning of words. Picture books are not the only texts where pictures convey meaning. Readers are exposed to pictures in much of their nonfiction reading. Knowing how to figure out words by using background knowledge, looking at the picture, and inferring its meaning enhances vocabulary.

How might we know if a text is fiction or nonfiction? We discussed and the different Features of Fiction and Nonfiction Texts.

Then, we took a closer look at nonfiction texts to see if we can identify some of the terms related to nonfiction texts.


Here are some ways to talk about our thinking:

  • I’m noticing…
  • I’m learning…
  • I’m wondering…

Reading Strategy: Ask questions to engage with the text.

We can engage our minds by asking questions as we read. When reading fiction, we might ask, “What comes next? Why did the character do that?”

When reading nonfiction, we might ask questions about the topic, “How do I know?”

When we ask and answer questions while we read, we know our minds are turned on to a book, this means we are coming to the text with curiosity. It can feel like we are having a conversation with ourselves as we question and inquire, wondering what will come next. We can read on to answer our questions!

Reading Strategy: Use Word Parts to Determine the Meaning of Words

Looking at parts of words helps readers break the word’s meaning apart and supplies them with a strategy to understand new words they encounter. While looking at the distinguishable parts of a word, readers use their back- ground knowledge of the word parts along with their knowledge of the text to infer the meaning of the word.

Reading Strategy: Use Dictionaries, Thesauruses, and Glossaries as Tools

Readers use many strategies to increase their understanding of words and texts they are reading. Although there are many different strategies to use, one of the most widely known strategies is using a dictionary, thesaurus, or glossary as a word learning tool. Readers use this strategy when they need a precise definition of a word or a list of other words that mean the same thing. In order for readers to be successful at using these word learning tools, they must first understand how they work.

Two students create a poster to share the reading strategies they have been using during Guided Reading lessons.  

As researchers, we have been reading books, watching videos and engaging in dialogue to learn more about living things. We have looked for ways to share our own understandings with others. As writers, we have been wondering what techniques we might use to teach our readers about the different things we are learning.

We are learning that writers can include introductions. They help readers know what they will learn about. Informational texts: ​

  • can start with an action​
  • start with a little story to hook and pull the reader in​
  • start with a big idea​
  • start with questions to get the reader to think​

​Writers can include conclusions. They can also leave the reader with a big thought or idea.​

Bringing all these ideas together, the students have been working on creating their own piece of informational text. This would accompany their 3-Dimensional model or audio book projects.

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