I love to teach reading. I want my students to fall in love with books, listening to stories, and connecting to text. However, when your resources are dwindling at the end of the school year and the students’ attention spans are diminishing, it gets difficult to engage students in much let alone my favorite activity.
This week’s target comprehension strategy in first grade is recognizing text and graphic features in non-fiction. Our weekly text is not an exciting one so I knew that I had to do something to grab my students’ attention and get this strategy to stick. While driving to work this morning (where I usually get my best ideas) I came up with this easy and low-prep activity to help my students!
Text and graphic features file folders can be used in so many different ways! They are super easy to prep and can be put together with things that most teachers still have at the end of the crazy school year. No copies need to be made or wasted paper! The only materials you need are file folders (enough for each student or I put my students into pairs and gave one folder to each group), post-its, and left-over Scholastic News magazines!
Before introducing the file folder activity, I worked with my students and reviewed what we already knew about text and graphic features. We did this by marking up an enlarged copy of an old Scholastic News that I had saved with post-its, labeling all of the features that we noticed. We talked about diagrams, photographs, captions, headings, drawings, labels, big bold words, and graphs. After discussing the purpose of these features and why the author used them, I shared the directions to this independent activity. Each pair of students were given a file folder, two copies of an old edition of Scholastic News, and large post-its (which surprisingly my students were WAY too excited to use).
After hearing the directions and seeing a teacher sample, my students went to work! They were asked to cut apart (gasp!) the Scholastic News copies and glue the text and graphic features they found into the file folders on the post-its. I explained that this would become a resource for them that we would keep to refer back to throughout the rest of the year.
While the pairs were looking through their copies of Scholastic News, I kept a list of text and graphic features that we had discussed earlier on the SMART board for them to refer back to while they were hunting with their partners.
Once the students searched with their partners and identified the text and graphic features that they noticed, they began to label and glue the examples into their file folders. This gave my students a way to actively engage with text and graphic features on their own and see how many different ones are in familiar non-fiction texts.
My students were talking with their partners about why the authors used the different features and what it helped them to understand in the text. I only facilitated their learning, they really took ownership of this inquiry and I was so proud! One of my firsties noticed that there weren’t any drawings in their Scholastic News, so she took it up on herself to create her own to add to her file folder! If that doesn’t show a deeper understanding of the skill, I don’t know what does!
We will continue to add to our file folders throughout the week and then keep them in our book baskets to help guide us when we’re working with other non-fiction texts.
I love that this is a resource that is fully student-created, interactive, and one that we can continue to add to for the rest of the year!
I hope that this idea works for you in your classroom despite the end of the year craziness and summer countdown that is mentally going on in your student’s (and your) head!
I can’t wait to add to these throughout the rest of the week!
Thanks for stopping by!