Informational Literacy Unit

Due to an overwhelming request by the devoted readers of this blog, I am revising this original post to include pdf's of the Guidelines for Critical Thinking rubric and the Code of Cooperation.  Scroll down to find them in context. 

**Also note, I've recently posted my newest Common Core Information Text Reading bundle**

If information literacy is central to success, survival, schooling, workplace and the community, then the teaching of information literacy and all the skills that it entails is critical, too.  As many of you are quite aware, the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is building instructional practices and "shifts" into the roll-out...where teaching the standards alone is simply not enough to prepare our students for the 21st century.

Shift #1 for the CCSS in English/Language Arts (ELA) is this: 

For my 3rd grade reading group, now up to 28 (high-achieving) students, we have been able to put some systems and structures into place to give students an opportunity to excercise their critical thinking skills....which of course, must be taught and relentlessly practiced, with informational content text.  You will notice the wording in the CCSS Shift statement, does not use the term, a balance of "fiction and non-fiction" states, "a true balance of narrative and informational text.  In the elementary grades K-5, the percentage balance is truly pure, 50% narrative and 50% informational....but in the middle school and high school, the percentage for informational text reading rises while narrative text reading decreases, to the content based classes in middle and high school.   As a class, we began brainstorming different types of non-fiction genres, then different types of informational text. Here is the final anchor chart we created:

From this chart, we created a few more. One about informational text features and their purpose and one about informational text structures using Charts found on Beth Newingham's Scholastic blog. The informational text features chart was created from my own original creations which can be found on my website under Literacy and Language.  

After generating and exhausting the list of informational text types with the students, the students decided they would like to create an informational text museum using informational text from their home and world. 

During guided reading groups, we used informational text to determine main idea, cause event, sequence of events, etc. We also used our Guide to Critical Thinking to guide our conversations, our justifications and interactions with each other. Here is the anchor chart we created.  

FREE link to Guidelines for Critical Thinking PDF

I'm happy to share this Gudelines of Critical Thinking rubric I created with anyone in the best interest of "preparing all learners for their future"...this document is licensed under Creative Commons for non-profit, share-alike and proper attribution.

During guided reading, students take turns facilitating the group conversation asking questions of each other and justifying their opinions to one other...and I get to sit back and file my nails [just kidding]...seriously, we have talked like this for so long, they know how to play devil's advocate now and "play" being the teacher with each other.  It is not uncommon to hear students say, "I disagree with xyz, because on page 10, the author says from that I infer 123."  Students also hold each other accountable to this language by calling on students that rarely share by saying...."xyz, you haven't contributed to the conversation yet, what would you like to add?"  To get students to justify their thinking and opinions, I made a big huge BECAUSE that hangs right above us on the's about 2' x 3'. 

BECAUSE Poster - Free Download by clicking on the picture above.

In order to help students facilitate this type of discussion, I created these sentence frames in order to help them frame their thoughts, ideas and opinions. They are free and you can download them HERE.  

And my Revised Bloom's Taxonomy Posters to get all students using the maximum amount of signal strength during literacy....and in every subject all throughout the day.

 During Independent Reading & Responding, students opted to use this form in their informational responding. 

Students also added their reading thinking to our class blog here

The last group is a cooperative learning literacy activity.  We do so much modeling of how to speak and interact with each other about our literacy ideas, reading thinking and ideas, students are able to carry on without my assistance. Here was their task last week. {P.S. The green serving platter that the two book sets are resting in is from the Dollar Tree and serves as the tracing circles when the groups create their Venns.} 

Here the product of two groups....

And this is the Cooperative Learning Anchor Chart that guided how students interact here:

Again, I'm happy to share this Code of Cooperation document I created with anyone in the best interest of "preparing all learners for their future"...this document is licensed under Creative Commons for non-profit, share-alike and proper attribution.

In addition, with Speaking and Listening having it's own domain in the Common Core for ELA, we created a sort of "code of cooperation" for the Rules for Discussion standard.  Students respectfully discuss their ideas by following these rules and hold each other accountable to these rules as well.  If you'd like to use these Rules for Discussion from the Common Core, here is the link to the Common Core Rules for Discussion.

Here are few more ideas for you from this week:

Anecdotal Record Sheet...I use one for my 2nd grade group and one for my 3rd grade group.
Download pdf version HERE or the docx version HERE.

Download {free} Book Review & Recommendation sheets by clicking on the form.

Teaching students to read and comprehend nonfiction and informational text is more difficult than reading and comprehending fiction for the sheer reason that there is no sense of story to hold the ideas together, no characters, setting or plot to contextualize the reading experience.   As teachers, it is our responsibility to help students understand the various structures and features of informational text.   I help my students do this by teaching each feature of nonfiction through mini-lessons where mentor texts are used to demonstrate the various features, what they show, how they are used and how they help us understand the topic better. Several years ago, I created a template for a nonfiction conventions notebook.  This year, I have updated that notebook and aligned it to the common core standards related to nonfiction text features.  If you' re interested in this, you can find it HERE

To also my blog post about Sources for Informational Text online.  And if you're interested in keeping anecdotal snapshots during guided reading or informal running records of informational texts, I created these "all standards at-a-glance" sheets to quickly documents the RL and RIT standards of the Common Core.  The first grade one is shown below but I have created them for all grades K-5. 

And if you like my stuff, be sure to check out the Common Core department of the Hello Literacy Store and consider clicking "Follow Me" over at my Hello Literacy Store...I add Common Core documents, RTI documents and activities for higher level thinking, every week.  

Also see my latest Common Core product...

Happy Reading! -Jen Jones



Beg, Borrow, and Teach! said...

Thanks so much for these resources! I'm definitely using them in my Daily 5 centers.

debberfly said...

Oh my goodness!! I don't know you but I love you! :)

Laura said...

This is such a great post! I really enjoyed reading!! Thank you!

Peace, Love, and First Grade

Jennifer said...

Wow, thanks for the wonderful post. :)

Teaching with a Smile

Lori said...

Great informative post and ideas! Thank you for sharing them.
Conversations in Literacy

Jennifer Gibson said...

Thanks! Great post!

Lifelong Learning

Cari Young said...

I love your Informational Text museum! That will make a great learning center in our elementary school library!
Library Centers

Ashley F. said...

This is wonderful. I have been presenting along with a co-worker all the different shifts and this gives light to some with examples, used in a classroom. I really enjoyed your post and can't wait to guide others to come find your blog. Great job, thanks for informing all of us, and continue on! I am in Eastern, NC, and want to take a field trip to your classroom!

Linda Staten said...

What a great wealth of knowledge and information. This is an excellent tool and I would like to have our English department create and or set up a web page for literacy in high school. It would be great to have some of our major literacy strategies and activities available at our finger tips. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

That is a wealth of knowledge and information that is so needed at any level. I am hoping that our high school English department can create and maintain a similar learning center.

Unknown said...

Ashley...come on over! You're welcome in my classroom anytime!

Kim @ Mrs. Hs Resource Room said...

You have wonderful resources on here! Thanks for sharing and making them available.


Josie said...

Thank you so much! You have absolutely amazing ideas/charts here. I teach high school and I can adapt much of it for my kids. Getting them to justify their responses with the big giant "because" - I want to make one this weekend! Thank you for sharing.

Ms. Morton said...

Love your blog! I teach special education and my children struggle with comprehension skills and strategies. You have a lot of great ideas. I''m your newest follower! Thanks for sharing your ideas!

Please visit my blog if you get a chance.


Joy said...

I'm so glad I followed a pinterest pin here! This idea is great and I can't wait to explore your other posts! I'm a new follower btw!

Teaching Living History Blog

Anonymous said...

I love your blog! i teach 4th grade ... Also a high achieving bunch. I wish a 4th grade teacher would start this with common core. I would but between my own kids, finishing grad school, teaching I don't think i can take much more on solo. I would love to partner with someone though!

Angie Hurst
Oxford, Alabama

Unknown said...

Dear Angie,
Ideas like the CT rubric AND holding kids accountable for talking this way are "vital behaviors" (from the book The Influencer) where it only takes one teacher and class of students to start doing it and the rest is history, as that teacher shares it with her PLT, and those students go to the next grade talking like that, the principal asks you and your team to speak about it at a staff meeting...etc. Our school has determined that common CT language is so important to our mission "preparing all learners for their future" that we have wriiten it into our SIP. Good luck.

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness! I just discovered your blog through interest and love it! I'm your newest follower and can't wait to explore more. Thanks for sharing!

Sweet Seconds

bergenstief said...

Thank you so much for sharing these educational resources, PDFs, and creative/clear/concise ideas! As a middle school language arts teacher, it is always helpful to gain a variety of perspectives and ideas on the literary genres, elements of reading, etc. that are taught in the elementary schools. When I have an understanding of my students’ potential prior knowledge, my “investigations” and pre-assessments are more informed and my teaching is more effective. Thanks again for letting us into your classroom, providing a springboard of ideas, and contributing to this tremendous virtual professional community.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Even in my middle school classroom, I will be able to adapt these wonderful resources! Thanks so much for your generosity!

Anonymous said...

You have great resources on here! Thanks for sharing! Jen

It's About Time, Teachers said...

Hi Jennifer
I just found your blog through Pinterest and, like everyone else, I love it. As a literacy specialist and literacy coach, I can put these ideas to work right away. Thank you for sharing!

I've been spending some time in Wake Co. as my daughter and her family live in Apex. You live in a beautiful area. My hubby & I can now do the drive in our sleep.;)

I'm your newest follower and pretty new to blogging. I'd love some feedback on my blog if you have the time.

Shari said...

I know you MUST get tired of hearing this, but you're blog is FAB-U-LOUS! Thanks for investing your time for such a wonderful cause!

Loralee said...

Your blog is excellent. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Love your Blog! The critical thinking, making connections and comprehension ideas are very helpful as we plan for the new school year. Each year we strive to grow lifelong readers and writers in our classroom, and you have given us a multitude of tools with which to do just that! I job share, so our children have 2 "facilitators". We are excited to begin teaching our children and thank you for your ideas and strategies...all very beneficial to teaching our amazing third graders!
Cynthia Mitchen
Spring, TX

Nicole Smith said...

You are amazing, thank you so much for the free resources!

Mrs-Hdz said...

I teach middle school And can use all your great resources! Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Just found your site via Pinterest, love it!

Unknown said...

Thank you tons!

Evan said...

Nice graphics, what is the software you used to create these graphics? Are the diagrams done from creately ?

Melanie said...

Thank you for everything you've shared! You're a very generous person and I will be using some of these ideas in the future. I look forward to checking out your blog again soon :)

Sandra said...

Obsessed with this! So cool!

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