Reading and Writing Non Fiction

Examine with students various non fiction texts. Look for the following features. Encourage children to use these in their own report writing.
1. Talk to Your Reader
Begin with a question or a statement that involves the reader or arouses curiosity. See: Wetlands by Marcia Freeman, Magnets by Ann Schreiber or How They Got Over by Eloise Greenfield.

2. Tell what is happening , not what is.
Polar Bears by John Parsons. Wright Group 2001
Chicago by Conrad Stein. Children’s Press, 2000
Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky. Have students count the action words.
Gladiator by Richard Watkins.
Target Skill: Practice writing action sentences related to a visual.
Evaluate: The Bird Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta and Rivers by David Harrison.

3. Tell how things are alike.
Australia. Carolrhoda Books, 2000.
Great White Sharks by Christine Price. Steck Vaughn, 2001.
Target Skill: Using a non fiction visual, have students write sentences to compare two things.

4. Prove what you say.
A. Read the first sentence ( or statement) of a non fiction piece. Read the rest of the paragraph.
B. Ask students to identify the details ( or proof) for the first statement.
C. Share an entry from: The Kid Who Invented the Trampoline by Don Wulffson. Dial, 2001 or other non fiction book.
Target Skill: Show a visual. The student writes what he/she thinks is happening and tells why.

5. Tell what things look, sound, smell, taste or feel like.
A. Read Mojave by Diane Siebert (Harper96) Listen for use of the five senses.
B. Share Rain by Manya Stojic.
Target Skill: Describe a visual using three of the five senses.

6. Tell who, what, when and where?
Gorillas by Josie Stewart. Seedling Pub. 2000
Cowley, Douglas. Hallelujah Handel. Scholastic, 2003. A fictionalized, beautifully illustrated telling of how Handel dedicated the profits from The Messiah to help sick and orphaned children.
Target Skill: Write sentences about a visual that tell who, what, when and where.

Data Bank: Koala
Australia vegetables
Blue gum tree leaves
Outback fruits
short snout carries young
gray color climbs trees
thick fur day sleeper
long toes never drinks
small ears runs fast
night creature
7. Writing A Report
A. Use the word YOU in the first sentence.
B. Write two or more action sentences.
C. Make a statement about the topic and prove it by using the word “because” in your sentence.
D. Write a sentence with a simile.
E. Write a sentence that uses two of the five senses. Include repetition and alliteration.
F. Write an ending sentence that uses one of these words: everyone, we, everyday, everything, everybody, always.
G. Check your report. Have you told who, what, when and where?

8. Reporting Patterns
A. Time Sequence
White Bear, Ice Bear by Joanne Ryder. Morrow, 89 A day in the life of a whale.
B. Compare and Contrast
Christmas In The Big House, Christmas In The Quarters by Pat and Fred McKissack. Scholastic 94
C. Cause/Effect
Earthquakes by Seymour Simon. Mulberry, 1995.
Write about an important event during the school year.
D. Question/Answer
Bugs by Nancy Winslow Parker. Mulberry , ‘87
E. Problem/Solution
A Bed for the Winter by Karen Wallace. DK 2001
Forging Freedom by Hudson Talbot. Putnam, 2001

About Your Speaker
Nancy Polette is Professor of Education at Lindenwood University and author of 100+ professional books and six children’s books. She travels the U.S. and Canada providing staff development for schools and school districts on scientifically based strategies for meeting performance standards in reading, writing and research K-8.