I will start this post by admitting that I didn't plan my literacy instruction very well for January! Although we are reading non-fiction, we are writing poetry. Yeah, yeah...we should be reading AND writing non-fiction...but it's working out because the students feel refreshed every day we approach writer's workshop. They have been so excited about writing poetry!
In the Reader's Workshop we are working on non-fiction text features (some call it conventions). Here's a sampling of the work we are doing:
While the 5th graders have been creating "show and tell" projects about various text features, the 4th graders are creating these dynamic and fun booklets of features. We've been using our National Geographic Explorer magazines to find the pictures and examples. We write the definitions together as a group after we'd studied and learned about the individual feature.
At the same time we are using non-fiction articles to learn more about types of print in non-fiction as well as practicing our strategies of questioning, metacognition, visualizing, schema, and determining importance in text. My students are becoming non-fiction experts! :)
For teachers looking to "beef up" or improve their non-fiction lessons, check out this Scholastic link: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/teaching-nonfiction. I have found some really useful tips at this site.
Finally, a special thanks to Laine, a 4th grader in my classroom. She let me photograph her features booklet!