Spotlight on “Notes” and “Highlights:” Using Storia for nonfiction books
By Guest Blogger on November 20th, 2012
How about a big OOM welcome for Laura Murray! She’s a fourth grade teacher in Paramus, New Jersey, who’s back to talk about how she uses Storia — both in her classroom and at home with her daughter. (You might remember her first post, A parent’s peek into Storia.) Feel free to join in with comments!
It is highly likely that when you see your child reading, he or she is probably reading a fiction book. My students particularly love the characters they are familiar with, the books with attractive covers, series books, and especially the silly story lines. However, when you think about the reading we do as adults it is mostly nonfiction: magazines, newspapers, news reports online, emails, blogs, directions, recipes, religious books, resource books, catalogues, etc. Yes, many adults enjoy some down time with a good novel, but our day-to-day lives consist of so much nonfiction reading. Children need to learn how to read and respond to this type of literature as well so they can digest much of the material around them in our digital world where information is immediate and abundant.
Children actually enjoy nonfiction very much when they find a topic that interests them. They enjoy looking at the realistic pictures and diagrams, and they really love to share the exciting and sometimes shocking facts that they come across. Some highlights of my school year are when my students come up to me with such excitement in their eyes and want to share an amazing fact they found in their book. It is a true love of learning that reminds me of why I love what I do so much. I get to see this look at times already with my three-year-old daughter when she is looking at her books.
I would like to share some ideas to help your child navigate through nonfiction with purpose. Last time, I suggested some tips and ideas for using the Storia notes and highlighter features when reading fiction books. This time I would like to share with you some ideas about ways that your child can make the most of nonfiction reading time by using those same features.
Nonfiction is loaded with information that will spark questions or confusion in young readers. It is a good idea to train children to recognize when they are confused or have a question about something they are reading so they can stop and think. With Storia, they can highlight the section of the text that created a question or confusion. Then they can bring up the notes feature and add a question mark at the top of the note. Underneath, they can add the question(s) they are thinking about with the page number. They can also record an “I wonder…” statement. As they read further, they can look for answers or clarifying information to add to the note. Having them refer back to “old” notes to add information will help them retain some facts and make connections as they read.
2. Shocking Facts
Nonfiction is filled with amazing and shocking facts. Children love to share what they have found to see if adults are amazed by the same things, but they don’t always take the time to record these facts for later use or retention. When they come across a great fact, they can use Storia to highlight that information, then open a note and add an exclamation point to the top. Under their exclamation point, they can record their thinking when they read that part. Any inner dialogue would be what you are looking for them to do here. “Wow!” “That is amazing!” “I can’t believe that…” “I never knew that…” “I wonder how…” are just some of the things that they might be thinking as they read. Having them recognize and pay attention to this “inner voice” is a start to helping them be aware of new learning. Since we already do this thinking as adults during reading, we don’t always realize that it is something that needs to be modeled for and learned by children.
3. New Knowledge
Children can practice their inferring skills when reading nonfiction. As they read, they can highlight new facts that they are finding about a topic. After they have highlighted some things centered on the same topic, have them make a thesis statement in a note that can be supported by the highlighted facts. This will help them analyze and synthesize information. This higher-level thinking and creation of big ideas can help them deepen their thinking about a topic. It will also help them remember the information since they are manipulating it in their minds to create new ideas.
4. Unknown Words
Nonfiction is loaded with difficult words, words that children may not know the definition of, or words that they have difficulty pronouncing. This is a great opportunity for children to practice strategies for figuring out the meaning of unknown words. Using Storia, they can highlight the word(s) they are unsure of, and then try some attack strategies.
Some things they can do are:
- Read around the word to get more information and use these context clues to guess the meaning of the word.
- Skip the word and see if the sentence still makes sense.
- Substitute a word they think would make sense.
- Break the word into parts.
- Look for prefixes, suffixes, or root words that may help them figure out the word.
After trying some of these strategies, they can use the Storia Dictionary to see if they were correct in their thinking about the definition or pronunciation.
Once they have tried some of the strategies above, kids can get a little deeper and more detailed with their thinking. Responding to reading is another great way for children to internalize and think about new information. They can create an FQR note about their new learning. First they can highlight and record the Fact that they are interested in, then they can formulate a Question they might have about the fact, and finally they can Respond with their thinking about the fact. All of this great thinking can be recorded in the same note.
I hope these ideas and tips get your child thinking about nonfiction in a new way. There is so much great information out there for young readers, and all they need to learn is how to navigate through it. Hopefully nonfiction will be just as exciting and entertaining as fiction for them!
No comments yet