Friday, January 28, 2011

Teaching Nonfiction Writing - A Practical Guide

This was the latest read for the CUWP Book group. It proved to live up to its name--practical! Although it felt like it was geared towards kids from about fourth grade through junior high, I still found a lot of things in it that I put to immediate use in the classroom. I used a genre exploration (bringing in about 40 nonfiction books, biographies, magazines, etc.) before I assigned my students to do their Chaucer presentations. Because the kids had a better idea of what I was looking for (illustrations, things that could go in a sidebar, definitions, quotes, headings, etc.) I had the best Chaucer presentations I've ever had.

This book has a great little section on leads that many of us were talking about at the book group last night. I can't wait to try it out.

I've already noticed that I am more aware of pointing out the various techniques in the nonfiction pieces that we've read recently. For example, I always have the students read "The Man in the Water" in conjunction with Beowulf and our talk about heroes. This time when we read it, I made sure that the students noticed the craft Rosenblatt uses, i.e. when he uses imagery in the first paragraph: The jets from Washington National Airport that normally swoop around the presidential monuments like famished gulls are, for the moment, emblemized by the one that fell.

Speaking of book group, we had an incredible turnout last night. We are going to need a bigger room next time.


Joe Average Writer said...

I'm jealous. Any luck on changing from a Thursday? My soul is sold on Thursday nights for the next few years.

Keith Schoch said...

Love your idea of sharing a bunch of nonfiction titles for your students to check out before they wrote their reports. Like you, I see that my own students write much better after they've seen some good models of the type of writing they're expected to produce. Terrific blog!

Denée Tyler said...

Maybe we ought to alternate nights. You're the first person who's mentioned a Thursday night conflict, but I'm sure there are others.