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The PSSA Toolkit

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									                 The PSSA Toolkit
Instructional Strategies for High School Educators
Understanding Fiction - Reviewing Student Work and the Standards
How does this topic align with the standards?

Grade 11 Assessment Anchors
     R11.A.1 - Demonstrate the ability to understand and interpret fiction text, including short story; novel excerpt; and poetry, including sonnet and
     epic, appropriate to grade level.
         Identify the meaning of vocabulary--synonyms, antonyms, compound words, and possessives.
         Apply word recognition skills--context clues, roots, prefixes, and suffixes.

Reviewing Student Work in Understanding Fiction

As students progress in Understanding Fiction, they should read and write about many types of literary texts. Students should be able
to identify the meaning of vocabulary, apply word recognition strategies, make inferences and draw conclusions, and summarize the
major ideas or themes of a text. Teachers should assess how well students can do the following:

         Can   students   identify the meaning of multiple-meaning words used in text?
         Can   students   identify synonyms and antonyms?
         Can   students   identify meanings of compound words and possessives?
         Can   students   apply word analysis strategies using affixes and roots?
         Can   students   identify and use context clues?
         Can   students   make inferences and draw conclusions based on explicit and/or implicit information from the text?
         Can   students   identify and interpret main ideas and relevant supporting details?
         Can   students   identify generalizations?
         Can   students   recall information stated in the text?
         Can   students   summarize the major ideas or themes of a text?

Challenge 1 - Working with Words
Understanding a word requires grasping both its meaning and how to use it. As students develop their knowledge of words, they learn
to choose language that expresses their ideas precisely. They become more sensitive to the subtle shades of meaning in what others
say and write. Students can use both the text around a word and parts of the word itself to formulate a definition.

Here are some ways to use context to help with learning new words:

       Word Roundup. Before beginning the study of a topic area, you can have a "Word Roundup" -- a review of the vocabulary
     students think they might encounter given the title or illustrations in a passage. After reading, have students review their
     predictions and add to the Roundup any additional words that they learned. For instance, if students were about to study the
     career of a famous doctor, they might begin by listing some of the words they associate with doctors: stethoscope, penicillin, and
     so on.
       Research a topic. Have students choose a topic of their interest, and then ask them to become experts by picking out a
     dozen new words relating to that topic. Have students report back to the class about the words. Encourage them to use the
     words in a general presentation to the class about the topic.
       Research a word. Have students choose a word for a short study. What does this word mean and where does it come from?
     What are examples of how the word is used in newspapers, books, and elsewhere in print? What does the student associate with
     this word?

Once students have studied a new word in context, they should put it to use in a variety of ways. For instance, they might:

      Explain the word in their own terms
      Use it to explain what they know and what they do ("joy is being so happy that you're jumping up and down")
      Use the word in sentences that suggest the word's meaning

Challenge 2 - Impact of Words
As readers, we digest words that compose sentences, sentences that merge into paragraphs, paragraphs that meet as chapters and
chapters that blend into books. Words are the individual ingredients that make up the entire recipe of a story. Just as we can taste the
fresh basil in a terrific pasta sauce, we can also appreciate the words that accent good writing. This can present a challenge for
readers because exploring an author's word choice requires consideration of both the pieces of the text and the text as a whole.
Students must analyze the words themselves to draw conclusions about the way words work together to make meaning.

In our media-drenched society, students are inundated with a flood of startling visual images. Teachers have the pleasure--and the
challenge--of helping adolescent readers unlock the power of words that are as sharp and fast as the images in an action film, or as
soft and welcoming as the photographs in an advertisement for a luxury cruise. Authors paint pictures with words the way artists and
photographers create images with color. The words authors choose, the way they arrange those words, and the images they create
work together to impact readers.

Authors speak through characters. The author's theme or purpose is delivered through his characters. Ask your students to think
about the voices of the characters. How does this person talk? Does the dialect or accent affect how we understand or judge this
character? How does this character express feelings in his or her words? What is the author trying to say when this particular
character speaks?

You might help readers analyze a character's voice by asking them to keep a character diary throughout the reading of a text.
Students choose a character to follow throughout the entire story. They write diary entries in response to key elements of the plot,
using the first person as if they are in the shoes of the character.

Challenge 3 - Making Inferences
To make inferences is to draw logical conclusions that can be supported with evidence from the text. When students infer, they must
first understand the facts of the text then determine what is suggested but not stated explicitly. Being able to make inferences is a
critical skill for understanding all that is implied by what we read.

Create Character-Trait Graphs. A chart like the one below can help students determine the significant traits of the characters in
their reading. Students list evidence (action, speech, or interaction) that the text reveals about a character. In another column,
students record the traits that the evidence suggests.

                        Evidence                                                                                             Trait

                        The other students come to him to get information about assignments that
William                                                                                                                      Reliable
                        they've missed.

                        She organizes her team when they are losing and comes up with a strategy
Lindsey                                                                                                                      Leader
                        to keep them in the game.

Write character summaries. After students have used this kind of chart to take notes on a story, have them write a short
paragraph in which they summarize their findings. Such an exercise will help them remember details about each character by writing
about the evidence and the inferred traits.

Often actions reveal a character's feelings and thoughts. Here are some strategies that students can use to examine actions in order
to determine feelings:

Use a graphic organizer. Diagrams can be useful for teaching students to connect what a character does, says, and thinks.

Determining cause-and-effect relationships

Before introducing students to how cause-and-effect relationships play out in a story, you might use specific examples to show how
we make inferences about everyday experiences. For instance, stack a few books on a desk at the front of the room and ask students
to close their eyes. Knock the books off the desk and ask students to infer what happened. As they analyze the cause of the fall, and
most likely infer that you knocked the books off the table, discuss how they processed the information, pointing out that the same
kind of thinking can be applied to what they read.

Often cause and effect is a kind of balancing act. If we change one thing, then something else will change too. As we fix one problem,
we might create another. In this case, we need to find out how events are linked.

Students can be encouraged to discuss how these events are linked by using the following phrases:

      If you do (X), then what will happen?

      When you do (X), what happens?
      Without (X), what will happen?
      Unless you do (X), what will happen?
      As you do (X), what else happens?

Instructional Resources for Understanding Fiction

Vocabulary in the Content Area
This Educator's Reference Desk activity helps students build meaning from difficult content area vocabulary through illustration,
written and oral explanation.

Vocabulary Quick-Writes and Discussions
These activities help students develop a practical understanding of vocabulary through writing and discussion.

Reading a Book in a Day
Have students report on different sections of a book to see whether they can recreate the whole in this Educator's Reference Desk
lesson plan.

Indispensable Listening Skills
This listening activity, from the Educator's Reference Desk, will encourage students to develop a complete understanding of the story
they hear. They will also make connections between the characters and themselves.

Understanding Nonfiction - Reviewing Student Work and the Standards
How does this topic align with the standards?

Grade 11 Assessment Anchors
  R11.A.2 - Demonstrate the ability to understand and interpret nonfiction text, including informational, e.g., textbooks, print media (magazines,
  brochures, etc.), editorials, public documents; autobiography; biography; and essay appropriate to grade level.
      Identify the meaning of vocabulary from various subject areas.
      Apply word recognition skills--context clues, roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
      Make inferences and draw conclusions based on text.
      Identify main ideas, relevant details and generalizations.
      Retell or summarize the major points or procedures of the text.
      Check the validity and accuracy of information obtained from reading by differentiating fact from opinion.
      Evaluate text organization and content to determine the author's purpose according to the author's thesis and logic, headings,
      graphics and charts to derive meaning.

Reviewing Student Work in Understanding Nonfiction

As students progress in Understanding Nonfiction, they should read and write about many types of nonfiction. Students should be able
to identify the meaning of vocabulary, apply word recognition strategies, make inferences and draw conclusions, and summarize the
major ideas or themes of a text. Teachers should assess how well students can do the following:

      Can   students   identify the meaning of multiple-meaning words used in text?
      Can   students   identify synonyms and antonyms?
      Can   students   apply word analysis strategies using affixes and roots?
      Can   students   identify and use context clues?
      Can   students   make inferences and draw conclusions based on explicit and/or implicit information from the text?
      Can   students   make inferences and draw conclusions about ideas in the text?
      Can   students   identify and interpret main ideas and relevant details from the text?
      Can   students   identify generalizations from the text?
      Can   students   recall key information stated in the text?
      Can   students   summarize or paraphrase the major ideas or procedures of a text?
      Can   students   identify facts that support an assertion in a text?
      Can   students   identify statements of opinion?
      Can   students   use headings, subsections, graphics and charts to interpret a text?

Challenge 1 - The Nature of Nonfiction
Nonfiction draws on facts and reality and is written in prose (sentences and paragraphs). Some nonfiction genres, however, focus less
on facts than others. For example, editorials express opinions (although often supported by facts), and journal entries often contain a
writer's personal feelings and experiences. Even though the purposes of nonfiction vary widely, many nonfiction genres rely on using
facts and ideas to support clear and logical arguments. When we use the word argument in the context of nonfiction, we are not
referring to a spoken disagreement between two people; rather, the argument (or the thesis statement) is the central idea or point we
use evidence to support. Another word for the process of defining, explaining, and interpreting information is exposition.

As students learn about different types of nonfiction, they see that this type of writing covers a great deal of what they read in the
course of their lives. Familiarity with newspapers, magazines, and biographies helps students recognize different genres and find the
information they are seeking. As students become more familiar with recognizing different types of nonfiction, they begin to see how
the organization of each piece reflects the author's priorities, and they can make predictions and draw inferences about the text.

  Type of
                                                        Defining Traits

                              A publication issued daily or weekly with information on recent events,
                                                   advertising, and photographs
                            Newspaper writing includes feature stories, news articles, opinion and op-ed
                                          pieces, business, sports, and lifestyle pieces

                     A periodical containing a collection of articles, stories, and pictures focused on a
                                                       particular topic

  Textbook                          A book used in school for the study of a specific subject

                                      A periodical about an industry, a job, or an interest

                      A history of a person's life or a significant segment of that life, written in the third
                        Uses dates, geographical details, information drawn from outside sources, and
                      personal documents (for example, diaries and letters) of the person whose story is
                                                             being told

                            The life story of a person narrated by the person herself (written in the first
                                     Story is drawn from diaries, letters, journals, and memories

Challenge 2 - Navigating Nonfiction
When students start reading and analyzing different types of nonfiction, they will need reading strategies that are peculiar to this
genre of writing. For example, readers need to determine what information is most important and to make connections between
details as they read. Specific features, textual cues, and structures of nonfiction help readers sift through information, ask questions,
summarize what they have read, identify main ideas, and draw conclusions.

Do a first reading of the text

When students begin a nonfiction text, they need to recognize the type of nonfiction they are reading and then consider how the
particular piece is organized. Here are a few ways to help them begin:

Activate background knowledge: Help students recognize the understanding they bring to a first reading:

      What do I already know about this subject?
      Where or when did I learn this information?
      What do I now want to learn about this subject?

Search for visual cues: Once students have the text in their hands, they might ask the following questions:

      What does the title tell me about the text?

     How long is this text? What are its organizational features? Is it divided into chapters? What do its organizational features tell
     me about the author's intentions?
     What are the important headings and subheadings?

Keep inquiry open: As students start reading a nonfiction piece aloud, they might ask the following questions:

      What important information do the first few sentences of each paragraph present? The last few sentences of each paragraph?
      What important words and phrases does the text highlight with italicization, bold lettering, or phrases such as "Most
     importantly..." or "It is critical to understand that..."?

      What are the necessary words and phrases I should highlight, underline, or take note of?
      What information surprises me?

Use the structure to identify the author's priorities

Information and an author's ideas come together in expository writing because an author uses reasoning and evidence to form and
defend a cohesive argument. There are many different kinds of reasoning that support strong arguments. Some of the better-known
and widely used types include the following:

      Cause and effect. Hot days make me sweat. When the temperature rises above 80 degrees, I break out in a sweat.
      Problem and solution or conflict and resolution. Hot days make me sweat. If I jump in the swimming pool, I cool off.
      Question and answer. What happens to people when they sweat? They get shiny foreheads.
      Comparison and contrast. Some people sweat when they feel nervous. Other people sweat when they are upset.
      Description. Hot days make me sweat. The skin beside my ears gets damp. Sometimes it looks like light rain has fallen on me.
      Sequence. Hot days make me sweat. First I get a red face. Then the back of my shirt gets damp.

Go beyond stated information

Once students have a strong understanding of the stated information in the nonfiction pieces they read, they should then move to
making inferences and predictions about these texts.

When you ask students to make predictions, remind them that they must be able to supply evidence from the text to support their
ideas. Also remind students that a prediction is like an argument about what will happen next or soon, which is based on what has
already happened (the facts in the passage). Have students structure their predictions in claims that lead them to supply textual
evidence for their ideas. For example,

      I think this might happen because...
      I think it is very likely this will happen because...
      I am certain this will happen because...

Students sometimes resist supplying textual evidence for their beliefs, and they do not always understand what counts as evidence. In
order to emphasize the importance of evidence, you might give them the example of a court case. A lawyer needs to introduce
evidence for his position -- otherwise he cannot win, no matter how strongly the jury believes he is right. Some examples of evidence
in a court case are motive, alibi, and physical evidence. Even though these pieces of evidence are not always as explicitly provided in

nonfiction pieces, nonfiction writing does provide information that serves as important evidence for a reader's ideas. Readers use this
information to predict events or outcomes and to make inferences -- all in service of making the most meaning when they read.

Online Resources
Here are some websites that will help you in Reading. Scroll further down this page to see links to Reading Instructional Resource

Instructional Resources for Understanding Nonfiction

Using Primary Sources in the Classroom
These suggestions for student activities from the Library of Congress can help enhance class work using various functional documents
from history, including cookbooks, advertisements, personal letters, and maps.

Human Nature: Good or Evil?
Through this Education World activity, students can analyze newspaper and magazine articles to determine whether human nature is
inherently good or evil.

Paul Revere, American Patriot
Try this activity from Education World. Students analyze the life of Paul Revere by examining several different sources, including first-
person accounts, historical fiction, and narrative poetry.

A Mirror into History
This Education World activity has students research a famous figure from history and use the information to develop a biographical
poem about the historical figure.

Components of Text - Reviewing Student Work and the Standards
How does this topic align with the standards?

Grade 11 Assessment Standards
     R11.B.1 - Analyze the relationships and uses of literary elements.
         Analyze characters, settings, plots, themes, tone and style in one or more texts.
Reviewing Student Work in Components of Text

As students progress in Components of Text, they should read and write about a variety of literary texts, and become increasingly
comfortable comparing and analyzing story elements. Teachers should assess how well students can do the following:

         Can   students differentiate between main and supporting characters?
         Can   students discuss characters' motives, actions, dialogue, emotions, and relationships?
         Can   students identify where and when a story takes place?
         Can   they identify details that describe the setting or indicate which information in the text suggests the setting?
         Can   students identify elements of plot, including conflict, rising action, climax, and resolution?
         Can   students explain the theme's influence on characters, setting, and plot?
         Can   students analyze the author's use of words to create tone and style?

Challenge 1 - Characters and Setting Details
A literary character gives the reader the opportunity to walk in somebody else's shoes. By closely observing a character, we can
acquire a deeper understanding of what motivates the people we know in real life, and we can think more rigorously about whom we
ourselves are and why we do what we do.

Part of our identity comes from our sense of place. Our childhood homes and the physical landscape around us often inform our
choices and our personalities. Authors convey the actions of characters in settings that reveal something about the story's characters
or plot. In order to determine what the setting in a story looks like, students can use not only the information in what they read but
also their prior knowledge of different settings. Frequently there are elements of a setting that are non-explicit; that is, parts of the
setting and time in the story are suggested. By drawing conclusions about what is suggested, students can construct clear images of
the story's setting and how it influences the characters.

Have students focus on three common ways of identifying a character's feelings:

      What does the author tell us about how the character is feeling?
      How does the character behave?
      What does the character say?

Ask your students to explain a character's feelings using knowledge of the character's wants and needs. For example, the class might
read a story about a monkey who wants to ride a bicycle but doesn't get to. Ask students to explain how the monkey feels. Or, if the
class reads about a family that is worried about not having enough to eat, ask students to imagine how the family feels when they get
invited to a Thanksgiving banquet.

How can we help students consider what characters want or need? Here are some strategies:

      Have students put events in sequence. They should have a clear understanding of what has happened already and what has
     not occurred yet. If a character already has a bicycle, it makes no sense to say he's sad because he wants a bicycle.
      Talk about where you are in a story. Authors love to start stories in the middle of the action. What has happened already that
     shows what a character wants or needs?
      Discuss what characters know or what they want to find out. How does this relate to what they want or need or to what they
     are planning to do?

Challenge 2 - Components of Nonfiction
Nonfiction writing conveys ideas and opinions that are based on facts and real-life events. When reading nonfiction, students must
identify the various points of view presented as well as the organization of the text. Readers must also be able to analyze the
effectiveness of the author's use of style and tone within nonfiction texts.

When reading a text, ask students to consider the author's attitude about the topic. Does the author seem sarcastic? aggressive?
passionate? nostalgic? angry? hopeful? ironic? How do students define these various moods? What words or phrases indicate an
author's feeling or tone regarding the subject of the text?

Once students become familiar with defining a particular tone, ask them to evaluate the effectiveness. Would anger be an effective
tone for an editorial about a social injustice? Would the same tone be effectively used in a children's book about dinosaurs? Compare

various nonfiction texts that adopt effective tones in order to help students identify why authors express certain attitudes as they
write about particular subjects. Additionally, ask students to consider their own tone when writing about various nonfiction topics. How
might they write about their favorite sports team, their school, or their family? What attitudes and moods do your writers express
when they communicate about these important subjects?

Online Resources
Here are some websites that will help you in Reading. Scroll further down this page to see links to Reading Instructional Resource

Instructional Resources for Components of Text

Become a Character: Adjectives, Character Traits, and Perspectives
This Read-Write-Think lesson plan walks students through the process of selecting appropriate descriptive words for characters in
suggested American Literature texts. Additionally, student writers support their choice of descriptive traits by writing in the
perspective of the character.

Style: Translating Stylistic Choices from Hawthorne to Hemingway and Back Again
In this Read-Write-Think activity, students examine the figurative language, tone, mood, style, and syntax of various authors in order
to more deeply understand the rhetoric and aesthetics of writing. Students then translate fables into a chosen author's style.

"'You Kiss by the Book'": Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet"
This Edsitement Lesson Plan focuses on Shakespeare's use of lyric forms and conventions as a principle of dramatic structure.

Is a Sentence a Poem?
Use this Read-Write-Think lesson plan to analyze a poem while defining the characteristics of the genre of poetry. Students then apply
their knowledge during reflection upon their own work.

Literary Devices - Reviewing Student Work and the Standards
How does this topic align with the standards?

Grade 11 Assessment Anchors
     R11.B.2 - Analyze the effectiveness, in terms of literary quality, of the author's use of literary devices.
         Figurative language: simile, metaphor, satire, personification, imagery and irony.
         Literary Structures--foreshadowing, flashbacks, point of view--first and third persons, limited, omniscient.
Reviewing Student Work in Literary Devices

As students progress in Literary Devices, they should read and write about a variety of literary texts. Students should be able to
identify how authors use literary devices to convey meaning. Teachers should assess how well students can do the following:

         Can students analyze the effectiveness of simile, metaphor, satire, personification, imagery, and irony?
         Can they analyze the effectiveness of the author's use of foreshadowing and/or flashback?
         Are students able to analyze the effect of first- or third-person point of view?

Challenge 1 - Understanding Figurative Language
We call language figurative (metaphorical or symbolic) when it expresses an idea in a way that is not literally true. For instance, if I
say "love gave wings to my heart," I mean that love made me happy by figuratively "lifting up my heart."

Picture Writing. Use photographs or paintings to inspire students to use imagery in their writing. Ask each student to select a visual
image to describe in a vividly written paragraph. Encourage students to imagine themselves within the painting or picture. Their
writing should answer such questions as:

         What do the details in the painting look like? Can I describe what I see by comparing it to another recognizable image?
         What do I hear? Does this sound remind me of another sound or noise?

       What scents or smells are in the air? Are they sweet, acrid, faint, or strong? Does the aroma remind me of another familiar
       Can I taste anything? What would the air taste like if I breathed deeply? Would I capture snowflakes on my tongue? Is there
     food in the setting? Could I detect a sharp taste from smoke or industrial fumes?
       If I were able to touch the objects in the painting, how would they feel? Can I compare this feeling to another kind of
     experience to help the reader imagine a texture, temperature, or other sensation?

Challenge 2 - Literary Structures
As an author tells as story, she uses certain methods for organizing the text. A writer must convey to readers a character's history
while carrying us through a certain period in a character's life and development. All of the relevant information about characters and
events must be disclosed within the frame of the story, so authors must make decisions about how they will illustrate key events of
the character's past, how they will plant suggestions about the character's future, and how they will reveal the perspectives of the


Authors have the power to predict the future of their characters. A writer has often planned out the sequence of a story, so he or she
will give us a glimpse, hint, or suggestion about what will happen in the future events of a text. Sometimes future events in a story, or
perhaps the outcome, are suggested by the author before they happen. Foreshadowing can take many forms and be accomplished in
many ways, with varying degrees of subtlety. Sometimes there is a symbolic hidden suggestion and other times the hint is a bit

The nature of the word. Talk with students about the prefix fore- and the root word shadowing. As evidenced by such related words
as forewarn (to give advance warning) and forecast (to predict), fore- indicates that something is to come. A shadow is the image cast
on some surface by a person or thing blocking the light of the sun or another source of illumination. Brainstorm why this root word is
fitting to the act of casting an image that the reader will look back on once she understands the full cycle of a story's events.

Personal Foreshadowing. They say that hindsight is 20/20. Ask your students to think of something they each experienced that
may have seemed unexpected at the time. Can they look back at events in their past that might have led to this particular event?
Have writers describe some of the indications that might have been in front of them before they experienced the described event. For
example, a student who won an unexpected reward might recall some piece of praise or positive indication from the organization that
granted her the award. Or someone who was surprised by a birthday party might look back on all the small hints left by family and
friends that might have foreshadowed the big surprise.

Online Resources
Here are some websites that will help you in Reading. Scroll further down this page to see links to Reading Instructional Resource

Instructional Resources for Literary Devices

Telling Tales: A Study of Perspective
In this Educator's Reference Desk lesson plan, students practice their creative writing skills by rewriting a fairy tale from another
character's point of view.

Reading Instructional Resource Databases

National Council of Teachers of English
NCTE is devoted to improving the teaching of English Language Arts at all levels by addressing classroom and professional concerns.

The International Reading Association
Resources for teachers, reading specialists, tutors, and others concerned about literacy.

Concepts and Organization of Nonfiction - Reviewing Student Work and the
How does this topic align with the standards?

Grade 11 Assessment Anchors
  R11.B.3 - Interpret and analyze concepts and organization of nonfiction text
      Differentiate fact from opinion in text
      Distinguish between essential and nonessential information within or across text
      Evaluate text organization and content to determine the author's purpose according to the author's thesis and logic, headings,
      graphics and charts to derive meaning

Main Challenge : Strategies for Reading Nonfiction
These activities can help you address the fundamentals of Concepts and Organization of Nonfiction with your students.

Using prior knowledge

Students need to know the types of informational sources available to them in any given setting. For example, students who are
familiar with the function and organization of a museum will know to ask for a museum map during their visit. Additionally, seasoned
museum visitors are aware that they can get additional information by renting an audio tour or by reading the signs posted by the

Students quickly acquire this type of knowledge when they first discover museums or first use maps or first follow directions for
assembling a toy. The more they recall and use such prior knowledge, the better they are able to take advantage of informational
sources (and consequently to navigate everyday tasks more quickly and easily). Teaching students to choose and navigate the
appropriate informational sources is crucial, particularly in a world filled with endless amounts of information.

Reading what is not on the page

Questions about sources of information often require students to find a detail in the passage. Sometimes, though, students are asked
for information that is not included in the reading or to find a few numbers and add or subtract them. It is especially important that
students understand the question being asked.

In class discussions, give your students practice with the following types of questions:

             Type of Question Examples

                                        What ingredient is NOT mentioned?
                                        The contest will take place in every month EXCEPT...

             Math                       HOW LONG after the tadpoles hatch will they begin to grow legs?

                                        When do pie contests USUALLY take place?
                                        Which life preserver SEEMS the safest?

                                        Which event will happen FIRST?
             Sequence Signals
                                        The LAST step is to...

If students understand the question, they will know what details are missing as they search for information to answer it.

Details in context

Informational texts present many details that are difficult to understand. For example, the first time we look at a map of a city, we
encounter unfamiliar names of major landmarks and roadways. If we use written directions to assemble a new bicycle, we may come
across words we do not know, such as the names of parts, or words that are brand-specific. Recipes frequently present unfamiliar
details: names of ingredients; new methods of combining, cooking, and preparing; and names of appliances or implements we may be
unfamiliar with.

Students should ask the following questions as they encounter unfamiliar words and phrases:

      Does the document define the word or phrase somewhere in the text (e.g., somewhere near the word or in a glossary)?
      Can I recognize any part of the word or phrase?
      What part of speech is the unfamiliar word?
      Is the word or phrase completely new, or do I have some sense of what it might mean?
      Do I have any prior knowledge that can help me with this unfamiliar word or phrase?

 Distinguish between essential and nonessential information

Is the author playing on my emotions? Ask students to consider if the author has gathered factual information in order to
generate an emotional response. For example, in a persuasive essay about the deforestation of valuable rain forest, an author might
highlight how much acreage of rain forest is lost and how many species of animals die each day due to destructive farming techniques.
While this information can be proven to be true, readers are wise to note that the facts are presented in order for the reader to
consider the great amount of rain-forest life that is exploited and to respond with some feeling or emotion.

Is the author using a testimonial (of an expert, celebrity, or layperson) to convince me to agree with his or her opinion?
A testimonial is a formal statement in support of a specific fact. Authors might select individuals to give evidence to validate the stated
opinion. For example, in a persuasive essay about the dangers of pollution, an author might include a doctor's testimonial about some
physical effects of pollution. Likewise, an advertiser might cite a celebrity in order to convince consumers that a famous person prefers
a particular product. Perhaps the author offers the ideas and advice of a layperson--an "everyday" person just like you and me--who
agrees with the author's opinion. These uses of various testimonials are intended to present the facts through the voices of people
with whom the reader might identify or trust.

Is the author calling me to action? Some facts are included in persuasive text as an inspiration towards response. Advertisers want
readers to respond to the facts in their text by purchasing the product, while reviewers might want a reader to go out and see the
movie that they highly recommend. Students might consider the following questions:

Online Resources
Here are some websites that will help you in Reading. Scroll further down this page to see links to Reading Instructional Resource

Instructional Resources for Concepts and Organization of Nonfiction

A Biography Study: Using Role-Play to Explore Authors' Lives
This Read-Write-Think unit challenges students to research a selected American author in order to role-play aspects of the author's life
and write the individual's biography.

Making the Personal Political: Writing Opinion Pieces About Meaningful Issues to Kids
In this lesson from the New York Times Learning Network, students write persuasive opinion pieces about chosen topics.

Making Headlines: Examining Journalism Through the Eyes of Campaign Politics
Students consider their opinions about the candidates in the 2004 Presidential election, weighing facts and personal beliefs in a lesson
from the New York Times Learning Network. Students then compose a press release for a chosen candidate, gaining familiarity with
the organization of various types of nonfiction texts.


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