Nonfiction Text: Reading with a Purpose

As adults, when we read nonfiction, we are reading for a purpose.  I pick up an article about the 13 colonies because I need to learn what the major settlements were for my lesson.  Or I find an article about what coarcation of the aorta is so that I am better prepared when I visit the cardiologist for treatment discussions.  I don't just pick up a nonfiction article to read for the fun of it.  I always have a purpose.

It is the same in class.  When the students read nonfiction, there is generally a purpose (notice I said generally...I *know* there are exceptions to this....just go with me for the purposes of the is blog post ;))  So when we started out our exploration of nonfiction text, I started the students with a very simple lesson on reading with a purpose.

First, we discussed some general guidelines for reading nonfiction text.

Then, I gave them a simple article about the circulatory or respiratory systems.  Since that is our science topic at the moment, I wanted them to find out what it would be like if they were taking a ride through the system.  Where would they start?  What would the journey entail?  I also wanted them to read for the various organs that are apart of the system.  So while reading the article, the students had two purposes.   I asked them to write those purposes down at the top of the page.

After they did that, the students went off to reading.  They underlined the journey stops and circled the organs.  This helped them to not only find evidence of the reading purpose, but also keep them differentiated.  

We then took the information, and started to create a Comic Life Comic Strip with it (the kids aren't done, but here is a post of what we did with the American Revolution battles that culiminated in the same end product.)

So there you have it.  Something simple that I have my students to do get them to read closely while digging into nonfiction text.  How do you get your students to focus in on one aspect of the text to read it very closely?

1 comment

  1. I love the idea of having them write their purpose at the top of the page! I am still getting started with close reading in my classroom, but your post makes a lot of sense to me. I will definitely start with something like this with my class! Thanks! :-)

    The Craft of Teaching


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