Incorporating High Interest Nonfiction Close Readings into Your Classroom

March 26, 2015


Ask a student about their favorite reading from English class and most will give the title of a young adult or classic novel. Few, if any, will name a piece of nonfiction. To increase my students' engagement with nonfiction, I decided to capitalize on something I knew they would be interested in: the holidays. I created a series of nonfiction close readings using rigorous texts from sources such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio. Read about how one teacher uses these nonfiction close readings in her classroom.
When you ask students about their favorite reading from English class, most will give the title of a young adult or classic novel. Few, if any, will name a piece of nonfiction.

To increase my students' engagement with nonfiction, I decided to capitalize on something I knew they would be interested in: the holidays. I created a series of nonfiction close readings using rigorous texts from sources such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio.

Below, one teacher describes how she uses these nonfiction close readings in her classroom.

Ask a student about their favorite reading from English class and most will give the title of a young adult or classic novel. Few, if any, will name a piece of nonfiction. To increase my students' engagement with nonfiction, I decided to capitalize on something I knew they would be interested in: the holidays. I created a series of nonfiction close readings using rigorous texts from sources such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio. Read about how one teacher uses these nonfiction close readings in her classroom.Good day to you! I am Sarah from Kovescence of the Mind. I had the fortune to stumble upon Brynn Allison, The Literary Maven, and her nonfiction close reading sets a few months ago. Since then I have quickly snapped up every single one that she has posted.

Recently I used her St. Patrick's Day & The Dark History of Green text and questions. I think this is one of my favorites because the text was the transcript of an National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast. Most of my students have never come across a text like this before. They really got into the Valentine's Day one too.

Before class I printed off both the transcript and the questions for each student. I print enough for every student, much to the dismay of the man watching printer counts, because I want them to mark up the text. I always give my students the article first without the questions because otherwise they don't even want to read. These texts are short (about four pages), so the students don't get too squirrley.

The first thing I ask them to do is always the same: read and annotate. I ask the students to make two comments or questions on each page. Clearly this student was all about BACON. Not only does the annotation help them focus and let me know they read, it is just good reading strategy.

Ask a student about their favorite reading from English class and most will give the title of a young adult or classic novel. Few, if any, will name a piece of nonfiction. To increase my students' engagement with nonfiction, I decided to capitalize on something I knew they would be interested in: the holidays. I created a series of nonfiction close readings using rigorous texts from sources such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio. Read about how one teacher uses these nonfiction close readings in her classroom.As they finish reading, even though I ask for quiet, they begin to talk....about the reading!!! I love the conversations they have over these texts. It warms my heart that the students get into the reading enough to want to share with others. The sharing of their thoughts with their table groups is what I do after the reading. See how engaged they are in the conversation...TEACHER LOVE!!!

One student was getting so excited about the topic that he almost hit me with his papers as I was walking the room checking in on everyone.

Only after the conversation do I hand out the questions that go with the text. We go over them one-by-one before I turn them loose. Some of these questions ask for textual evidence, and I want to be sure that my students know exactly which ones they need quotes as parts of their answers.

Ask a student about their favorite reading from English class and most will give the title of a young adult or classic novel. Few, if any, will name a piece of nonfiction. To increase my students' engagement with nonfiction, I decided to capitalize on something I knew they would be interested in: the holidays. I created a series of nonfiction close readings using rigorous texts from sources such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio. Read about how one teacher uses these nonfiction close readings in her classroom.That is one of my favorite things about these products, they require text-based answers. The students have to use the text in their responses. I have been using these for awhile now, so the students are getting really good at figuring out the types of questions that go along with the Common Core informational standards. This is another great thing about these products, they cover all of the Common Core Standards for informational texts. Check those right off my list!

Another point about these close readings is that I just finished the first part of our state testing, and while it is NOT my favorite time of year, these texts made it tolerable because they are such high interest yet allow students to work with texts that similar to those nonfiction texts that they encounter on tests.

One last thing to consider is that these close readings are so user-friendly (the answer key is included) that they make a perfect substitute folder addition. These can easily be printed off and left for a substitute to teach. In fact, the Presidents' Day set was used for just that last month.

You can find all of the seasonal nonfiction close readings here plus one about the impact improper social media usage has on athletes here.

For more close reading tips and resources:

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3 comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Lisa! While I designed these with the 9-12 standards in mind, with support I think these could definitely be used with 7th and 8th graders as well.

      Brynn Allison
      The Literary Maven

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  2. Amazing products that I will continue to purchase. Thanks for the opportunity.

    Kovescence of the Mind

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