Oct 31, 2010

Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

One of the first standards of the year that I teach in 2nd grade is distinguishing between fiction and non-fiction (fantasy and reality). We work for a few weeks on different activities including:

  • Sorting a variety of books between fiction and non-fiction
  • Exploring various books to determine what features each genre has
  • Creating a Venn Diagram including the characteristics of each genre
  • Completing an assessment where each student is given a book at random and asked to determine whether it is fiction or non-fiction, then list the reasons for their choice (from the class Venn Diagram)
After students are assessed, I find it important to continue to explore and assess this concept. So, I add an activity to explore the differences between fiction and non-fiction text to a workstation titled "Fiction/Non-Fiction Sort":

In this workstation, I change out the selection of books weekly. (I try to choose a fairly equal amount of fiction and non-fiction books for the station.) I put the selection of 10-12 books in the workstation basket and two "header" cards labeled FICTION and NON-FICTION.

Students are to:
  • Sort all of the books under each header by looking through each book and using it's characteristics at a glance to determine if the book is fiction or non-fiction. Students shouldn't have to actually read the book in its entirety to determine this.
  • Choose one book from each genre (one from fiction, one from non-fiction) that they'd like to investigate further.
  • Complete the form below that includes listing the title of the book, genre, and characteristics that make that book fiction or non-fiction.  (Students are encouraged to use the class-created Venn Diagram that hangs up all year long.)

Additional Resources:
Fiction/Non-Fiction Bookmarks
FCRR Comprehension Expository Text Structure Activities
FCRR Comprehension Fiction and Nonfiction Review and other activities

Update: December 1, 2015 I have added a freebie in my store to go along with this post! I'm so sorry that I didn't add it here sooner!! Click the picture below! Head over to my store to download this freebie and I'd LOVE some feedback on it after you use it! THANK YOU! :)


Main Idea Workstation

As I mentioned in my Compare and Contrast Workstation Entry, I use the passages that are used there the following week in this Main Idea Workstation.  I use a card to cover up the questions that go along with the passage, partially because they have already answered them in the previous week, and partially because they happen to be "compare and contrast" questions, not main idea and detail questions. Students are to reread this "familiar" passage twice to themselves or to a partner, then complete the Main Idea and Details graphic organizer. As you can see below, students have the opportunity to underline and cross out certain things in the passage while they work. Often students underline the parts that they want to include in their graphic organizer (the most important details to support the main idea.) Then, once they record that detail, they cross it off. Students seem to work well with these short, to the point passages. 
Although students need practice with longer passages for standardized tests, I have decided that this is sufficient practice for 2nd graders at this stage, due to them just beginning to learn the concept of "Main Idea and Details." I am pleased with the progress that students are making with this workstation and I have to admit that it's a pretty easy workstation to keep up with week after week. I simply rotate the three passages from my "Compare and Contrast Workstation" to this one. There is no wasted paper and the graphic organizer can easily be checked by my assistant as an accountability piece, then simply erased with a paper towel or tissue by the student.

Additional Resources:
FCRR Narrative Text Structure Activities Scroll through these activities to find not only additional main idea and details resources, but also activities for story elements, story retell, and compare and contrast.

Passages are copied from this book:

Oct 30, 2010

Compare and Contrast Workstations

After struggling with finding different activities for literacy workstations, I have found this compare and contrast workstation to be a good one for my 2nd graders. They are engaged in the workstation and it is easily reused and changed out weekly for students.

I use short compare and contrast passages that are at a 2nd grade level. This is the book that I use:
I find this book to be useful because all of the passages are short and the same length. They are very concrete items and animals that are compared. Students seem to have an easy time filling in a Venn Diagram from the information given in the passage. However, they aren't too easy. Each passage contains similarities and differences. I always have students fill in a Venn Diagram before they answer the questions included with the passage. Also, students may highlight different parts of the passage to help them easily locate parts that they want to remember.
The workstation is kept a small basket with the passages in a clear sheet protector and Venn Diagrams are in clear sheet protectors as well. There are also dry erase markers and some paper toweling that is included in the basket for students. I find it important for all of the materials to be right there for students, so they don't have to go anywhere else to complete it.

1. Students are to choose a passage to work on and read it twice.
2. Then students may fill in the Venn Diagram, labeling it correctly.
3. Once the diagram is finished, they are then able to answer the questions by using the Venn Diagram to find the answers.
4. After checking their work, students are then able to have an adult (my assistant) check their work before they can erase it with a tissue and return it to the basket for another student to use.

This workstation can be easily changed each week by just taking out the passages that are included and putting in new ones. Also, I take the ones that are in the compare and contrast station and move them onto the "Main Idea Workstation" the following week (which I will post more about later!) That way, when students work on the passage in the Main Idea Workstation, it is a familiar read because they should have already read it in the Compare and Contrast Workstation. 

My students are able to explain what they are comparing and contrasting and how the things are alike and different easily because they are using his graphic organizer in a hands-on workstation situation.

Additional Resources:
FCRR Narrative Text Structure Activities Scroll through these great activities for some more compare and contrast ideas. There are some great graphic organizers and activities that include comparing and contrasting two narrative texts.

Oct 28, 2010

Main Idea and Details


After working on identifying the main idea and details in fiction and non-fiction text, my class worked together to create this bulletin board. We used some of our favorite read aloud books from this year so far and we found the main idea and three details for each book.

1. Have students choose which book they'd like to work with. (I had them work with partners, so I just chose two students who were interested in the book to work together.)

2. Give each pair of students 4 sticky notes. One for main idea, 3 for details.

3. Have students reread the familiar read aloud story.

4. Have students identify what they think the main idea of the book is and write it on a sticky note labeled "Main Idea"

5. Have each pair of students find 3 details that they find important from the story and remind them that the details need to support the main idea that they have chosen. They may write these 3 details on the other 3 sticky notes.

6. After checking capitals, punctuation, etc. on the sticky notes, I let them copy the sentences onto cut out leaves for our fall themed bulletin board.

7. Add the main idea and detail leaves to the book covers that are on your bulletin board.

8. You could also have students share their main idea and details of these books with the class. Each of the books should be familiar to the entire class, so they may help them decide if this was the main idea or not.

Oct 26, 2010

Response to Literature

When assessing whether students have comprehended literature that has been read, we can use a response to literature assessment.  I've noticed that this can be difficult for some students, especially when it comes to tying what they read to the answer and actually making sure to state part of the question in their answer.

With my 2nd graders, I often tell them to pretend that the reader doesn't know the question, so they have to restate what they are answering. Simple daily conversation examples would include "What day is it?" "Today is Wednesday." (Instead of just answering, "Wednesday.")

I think that this simple tool is a good reminder for students to tie what they read into their response to literature question:

RATT Poster
RATT Graphic Organizer