In the Trenches

Thoughts and Ideas from a Classroom Teacher

Non-Fiction Graphic Organizers

Are you looking for ways to teach your students ways to tackle their comprehension of non-fiction texts? Check out this excellent resource from the Center for Urban Education. I love how the graphic organizers are simple to draw, so I don’t have to run copies ahead of time for my students. They are also broken up into different comprehension strategies and text structures, so I’m always going to be able to find one to meet my needs.

Obviously, these graphic organizers fit beautifully with non-fiction texts of all kinds and levels. But, have you thought about using them with videos or clips from Discovery Education? I love teaching the use of these organizers with video clips because we can focus specifically on the featured learning objective, like summarizing. My lower readers do really well with this activity because they can get a handle on the skill I am trying to teach before they are struggling with the texts, too. This way, they know what they are doing and what to look for, as well as how to think about it. Give it a try!


Science News for Kids

Are you looking for texts to use with your students that relate to your science curriculum? Do your students love seeing what’s going on in the world of science?

Check out Science News for Kids! There is a huge, easily searchable database of articles with beautiful pictures that relate to all areas of science. The articles have an upper elementary readability level, and would be great for non-fiction texts in guided reading groups or for small group study. They even pull out and define key vocabulary.

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Roald Dahl’s Birthday

Every year, schools across the US build a full week of fun around Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March 2. It’s even become Read Across America Day! While I am a huge fan of Dr. Seuss and what his books still do to entice and engage young readers, I am also a fan of Roald Dahl. His timeless books, like Matilda, The Twits and James and the Giant Peach, have grasped the imaginations of young and old, alike. They entice reluctant readers; they make for amazing read-aloud books; they tie together parents and children who gravitate towards the quirky but heart-warming stories. Thursday, September 13 marks the birthday of Roald Dahl. Maybe you can take a few minutes of your day to share a special Roald Dahl story with your students! Here are some resources to help you get started.

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Responding to Non-Fiction

We are starting school-wide flexible guided reading groups on Monday, and I’ve been working today on my plans. I’ve found a text on clouds that addresses our current science objectives and it goes through the comprehension strategies that we’ve been studying in English/Language Arts, too. Woot! I get really excited when that happens. Some of you know exactly how awesome that is.


Any ways, one of the tenets of reading non-fiction is have purpose and focus. I love this “Responding to Non-Fiction” graphic organizer that can be used with lots of different texts. I use it frequently, and I really like how it makes the students apply background knowledge, consider questioning as a technique and analyze text features.


Check it out!

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