Sunday, October 20, 2013

May the Search be with You!

I don't know about you, but I love having my munchkins research--doesn't matter what, I just LOVE watching them discover new information and turn it into something spectacular, not to mention their doing it on their own!  They LOVE to be the know it alls experts, and more often than not, end up teaching ME something!  Oh boy do they just LOVE finding out that I "don't know something." {Them and B both!}

I don't know why, but NonFiction Text Features seem to be the "it" thing these days, yet they can be increasingly difficult for our little ones to identify, understand their purpose, and apply. To start us off, we discussed what seemed like millions several examples of text features, what they looked like, and their purpose.  We charted these using our very own nonfiction text features glossary using while reading this FABULOUS big book as a guide.  {Side note, if you don't have this book, you NEED to get it ASAP--so awesome for teaching nonfiction, text features, and how to read nonfiction books}.
We even completed a cute little cut and paste activity sheet that demonstrated what each text feature "looked" like.  We placed these in our reading notebooks for easy reference whenever we may need to go back and revisit them.  You can check it out here!

Defining Text Features in the form of ANOTHER text feature: the glossary :)  
We then went on a Nonfiction Scavenger Hunt using Abby Mill's printable and Scholastic Science Vocabulary Readers {2/group}.  Students were not to READ these books, which was puzzling for some of them to comprehend, but were to simply HUNT for the various text features present in their pieces of nonfiction {each group was given two readers in the event of one reader not having that certain text feature}.  They did an AH-MA-ZING job.  Even in our Daily 5 centers that followed, I could hear them naming the different text features during Read to Someone and Read to Self time {clouds part, cue angels singing}.

Abby Mill's Printable Freebie!
After students spent two days identifying, understanding, and defining text features, they were given their first research assignment!  Students {in groups of 2-4} were given an animal to research and present to the class.

First students visited the computer lab to take notes based on a given animal.  We used the National Geographic for Kids Website, and I must say it was perfect for my second graders.  It's filled with video clips, sound bites, maps, fun facts, and some very detailed photographs.  If you haven't used this yet, you NEED tomorrow now....

Students used this handy dandy little note taking organizer to help guide their research.  This was seriously the BEST note taking guide I have ever used/ created!  When I saw how seamless it was working with my littles, I was kicking myself for not using it 6 years ago.  It was then when I began chanting, "Better late than never dummy darling."  They did so great and I love when they take charge of their own learning--Ten Finger Woo for them (shake ten fingers and shout "WOOOOOOOOOO")!

Get it here!
Students then met together in groups to read and highlight more information using hard copies of text {this was printed directly form the National Geographic Site, however parts of it may be a little overwhelming for your lower level readers.  I put these students in a group to research the same animal and retyped their information with simpler vocabulary and fewer words-took a hot minute, but it was well worth the headache to come later on and I'll be sure to file it in a safe and happy place for next year}. I also tried to level the animals as much as possible.  Those animals that included more reading and unknown vocabulary were given to my medium and higher level learners, while the animals that had less reading/ new vocabulary were given to my medium to lower level learners.  Groups were of mixed ability to help each other as needed.

Surprisingly enough, I hardly had to intervene during any of their researching--I did have to remind some of them to write only the IMPORTANT information/words, rather than complete sentences- {the look on their little faces when I uttered the words, "do not write in complete sentences," was priceless}. #didshejustsaywhatithinkshesaid? Yes friends, you heard me right. :)

 Having just come down from my Text Features high, I found a snazzy little way to combine my love of research and the ever present text features--a Nonfiction Text Features Research BOOK {very creative name, I know}!  The past week I have been helping my little ones in small group reading transform their research into an informative book, teaching about a certain type of insect or animal {hello science standards}!

On each groups' reading packet, I placed a post it with the names of students in that group, as well as how many times we've met by placing a CHECK mark to help me remember who I needed to meet with that day.  Sometimes it's just the simple things that can make your life SO much easier!

Our research books included...
-opening sentence (attention getters)
-body covering
-habitat {where & where}
-fun facts

Text Features added to our books were...
-bold words
-table of contents

We are putting the final touches on these bad boys and will hopefully get time to present a few each day next week.  My friends were so proud of their work and are so excited to get to publishing these into their {first} very own research book!  While students are presenting, I'm going to have the rest of my friends jot down a few facts from each groups' presentations.  I'm not sure if I'm going to have the students present whole group {together} or to set up little stations, in the form of a science fair, around the room and have an "expert" at each station.  Too many life altering decisions, I know! Either way, I know it's going to be a ton of fun and there will be a lot of learning going on on all parts.

If you'd like to use this packet with your little ones {aka save yourself a migraine}, check it out on my Teachers Pay Teachers store here!  Lemme know what you think :)  Happy Sunday!!


  1. Replies
    1. THANK YOU!! I hope you can find use for it in your classroom! :)