One of the biggest changes with incorporating the Common Core curriculum into schools is the emphasis on reading nonfiction. Some teachers worry that more students will be turned off to reading by this change, but more and more teachers are discovering that when fiction and nonfiction are paired, they can significantly improve literacy development. Students are drawn to both facts and narrative, so when fiction and nonfiction are paired, they get the best of both worlds. That's why it's a good idea to explore classroom ideas designed around how to pair the two.
Why pairing fiction and nonfiction increases literacy development
It is very difficult these days to cover everything districts require students to know each year. But when language arts is integrated with subjects such as science or social studies, it is almost like a timesaver for teachers. It is a great way to build vocabulary and show children the same words in different genres. When children begin to make connections regardless of genre, their literacy development increases. They start to look at the world through lenses that filter information for true and pretend data. This creates more discerning learners who question and solve problems. The more teachers create classroom ideas that require students to use higher-level thought processes, the better their literacy development will be.
Classroom ideas for pairing fiction and nonfiction
- Pre-teach vocabulary words
- Have kids create K-W-L (Know-Want to know-Learned) charts
- Teach kids how to "unpack" primary documents like the Constitution
- Have kids identify which parts of their fiction book use nonfiction information
- Have students complete Venn diagrams or graphic organizers to compare texts
Book ideas for pairing fiction and nonfiction
One great book teachers can use to help develop classroom ideas for pairing fiction and nonfiction is Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley's new book Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction & Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science. Here are some great pairings to try:
- How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague
- Dinosaurs by Gail Gibbons
Literacy development in children depends on knowledgeable teachers who make it a point to find and give children great literature. When children begin to connect how they learn best with fiction and nonfiction, they can become more responsible for their own learning. Teachers who develop classroom ideas that foster a more balanced reading program of nonfiction and fiction are more likely to produce students who are well read and have better vocabularies.
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