Friday, June 28, 2013

Learning from Nonfiction Authors

Since the advent of the Common Core Standards, we have been saying to our students and the teachers with whom we work that there is a great deal that K-12 teachers and students can learn from the process nonfiction authors use to research and write their books. While everyone works differently, there are patterns to these authors' approaches that we can identify, examine, and harness for authentic classroom reading, writing, listening, and speaking that feels purposeful and interesting to children. The nonfiction authors and illustrators at the Interesting Nonfiction for Kids (I.N.K.) blog are considering this very question this summer, as you can read in this June 25th post: We are very excited to see what they come up with, and encourage you to share your ideas with them. This summer, Mary Ann is using the I.N.K. blog in her graduate course Exploring Nonfiction in the Elementary and Middle School Classroom. For one assignment, students (all practicing teachers) will  explore nonfiction as a mentor text for student writing. Using posts in the INK blog as a research site, students will to examine the different ways that authors focus on their writing style and make that focus transparent in their blog entries. Students will then explore a specific book in-depth, mining it for all of the ways it can serve as a mentor text from big the picture (disciplinary writing, structure, point-of-view) to the smaller elements (use of figurative language, questions, comparisons, etc.).

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