Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nonfiction in Science

Wow, I cannot believe that it has been two months since I have last blogged.  This school year has been one of the most hectic and stressed that I can remember.  I hope that this feeling of being completely overwhelmed soon disappears!  Anyway, enough of the whining and onward to using nonfiction in science.

I am currently teaching two AIG (gifted) language arts classes, one standard science class, and one inclusion science science.  I am thoroughly loving it all, just hoping that I am doing all four groups justice.

Since my background has mostly been language arts in  middle school, my strengths lie there.  I think that science is the perfect place to teach those nonfiction text features and structures. 

In North Carolina in 7th grade, we teach weather and climate.  My inclusion class was struggling with the concepts associated with the topic. As I was meandering through the picture book section of Barnes and Noble, I stumbled across the book Climate Change by Peter Benoit.  As I sat (yes, in the kiddy section of Barnes and Noble) and read this book to see if it was something I could use, I had many ideas running through my head.  I bought the five copies they had on the shelf and had them order me three more so that my students could work in groups of fours. 

The book is written with several different text structures:  cause/effect, problem/solution, question/answer, and description.  Along with finding these text structures, it had many of the nonfiction text features we have been studying.  Students used their copies of the nonfiction text features cards created by Beth Newingham to identify the parts of the text to make reading it a little easier. 

For one section, students were given enough sticky notes so they would have three per subheading.  While reading each section, students were required to write in their own words three facts/ideas/pieces of information, one per each sticky note. 

Students really enjoyed this activity and seemed to actually learn the information they discovered while reading the book.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well they did with this activity and how much information they retained after reading. 

As you can see in the pictures below, there are three other adults in the room with this class.  There are an inclusion teacher, a student intern, a one-on-one assistant for two of my autistic students, and myself with 24 students.  Even with that many adults in the room, we feel wiped-out and unsure of any progress after working with that class each day. 

Climate Change by Peter Benoit

Students working on reading and taking notes on their sticky notes in their interactive notebooks.

More note taking...

Intern working with a group of students.

Another groups of students using sticky notes to take notes in their interactive notebooks.

Inclusion teacher working with a group of students reading Climate  Change.

One-on-one assistant working with two of our autistic students.
My group of girls working together to take notes and understand our climate. 

Enjoy and hopefully it won't be another two months until the next post.



  1. This looks like a great idea - my kids always groan when I start talking about nonfiction text features!

    I have a random question (as someone new to writing my own blog) did you get the circles over the kids' faces? I've tried to figure it out and I can't. I feel uncomfortable posting their facing on my own blog too. Thanks for the help and ideas!

  2. I use PowerPoint to put the circles over the faces. I just open the picture within PowerPoint, place the circles over the faces, then hit Contol A to highlight everything, then group it together, then right click on the grouped image and save it as a picture. Then it is all locked together as one image. Hope this helps. I am pretty sure you have to have PowerPoint 2007 or newer to have the save as a picture option. Let me know if you have any other questions or if I just completely confused you.


  3. Could you work Messner's Eye of the Storm into the unit? My daughter was in gifted language arts, and the teacher made them read Tom Sawyer. She wanted to know why she was being punished for being smart!

  4. I can see the face of the kids because of the big red circle on it. But I think they are enjoying what their reading.

  5. What do they do with the sticky notes?

  6. I think my inclusion of LOTS of science text into my fifth grade classroom is why my students succeeded on the NC science EOG. I'm a NC blogger too (that's how I found you). I'm your newest follower. Follow me too at Mrs. Harris Teaches Science!

    Mrs. Harris

  7. My students love Scholastic nonfiction publications. I use Scope and Action articles for lit stations in grades 6-8. Thanks for sharing!