Nonfiction Text Features and Getting Wrapped Up in a Great Summary!

by becky on October 13, 2012

Yay! I’m back and it hasn’t been an entire month since my last post!!! This year my district is slowing moving towards a balanced literacy approach to reading. I have to say THANK YOU, LORD! I, personally, am excited about this. Probably because this is really how I feel students get a well-rounded reading experience. Plus, I don’t have to be afraid of getting in trouble for doing whole group novel studies. I still will/do incorporate small group instruction, but there will also be a time where everyone in the room is reading the same novel from start to finish. Since this may very well be my last year (for a while) that I will have a basal to use in my classroom, I’m slowly taking away certain components from the basal that I’ve felt I’ve had to use for years. Unfortunately, until I have a better grasp on how to assess (as in put a grade on the report card) my students in a full Reader’s Workshop model, I am still using the vocabulary quizzes and the occasional end of selection test. I am just not sure how to translate anecdotal notes into a percentage on the report card. If anyone out there does this, or has a suggestion as to how to get “grades” from Reader’s Workshop, PLEASE email me. I have delved into the reader’s response letters in the past, but for some reason, I can’t wrap my mind around the organization of this.

Anyway, today I am going to share how I use the Time for Kids articles in my Treasures basal to introduce Nonfiction Text Features to my students. One thing I actually do like about Treasures is that every third story is a Time for Kids article. Usually they are short, and to the point. I use the first article, in this case, Animals Come Home to National Parks, as my introduction to reading and using nonfiction text features.

To start, I printed out smaller versions of text feature posters I made and have used in my classroom for the past several years. I glued them on to an anchor chart and hung it on my focus wall. In the picture below I had it hung up on the “writing” section of my focus wall, but really it lives under the reading section.

We talk about all the types of text features and how they can help us become better readers. Then, I pass out the worksheet below and have them use their Science and/or Social Studies textbooks to find examples of all the different text features. I call it a scavenger hunt for text features and they love it. As you can see, they need to identify where they found each feature. I used to only require them to find one of each, but they would ALWAYS ask if they can find more. Uh, YES!!! So, I tweaked the form for them to show the different pages they found each feature on. This can be a great independent and/or partner activity. If you’d like a copy for your class, click the picture below and download your own copy from Google Docs.

The Anchor Chart and text feature hunt usually takes one day to complete. The next day, before we actually read the article, I have the students complete an anticipation guide. I LOVE using anticipation guides for nonfiction reading. It really guides the students, and helps them organize their thoughts BEFORE they read a selection. After the students complete the Before reading section of the Anticipation Guide below, I generally read the article with the class, then have the break up into groups to complete the After reading section. Then, we go over the answers as a class. I honestly wish I made more of these for our Social Studies curriculum. Every year I tell myself I’m going to, but every year, I run out of time. Aye, the ongoing battle with myself, lol. I have an anticipation guide for most of the TFK stories in the basal, and I’ll share them throughout the year. (After I triple check spelling and/or mistakes because as we all know, they happen to teachers too). If you would like a copy of my AG for Animals Come Home to Our National Parks, click the picture below and download a copy from Google Docs.

Finally, I wanted to post the newest addition to my TpT store. I have this thing for Halloween. I LOVE it. I’m sure it’s because my birthday is 2 days before the holiday, but regardless, I love how excited the kids get every year. This year I took our weekly reading skill of summarizing and turned it into a halloween-ish writing and craft activity. After two whole group examples using a picture book and novel that we read as a class, students were instructed to choose their own fiction picture book or novel that they have recently read that they would summarize. They filled in their graphic organizer using the SOMEBODY, WANTED, BUT, THEN, SO approach, peer edited with a classmate, revised their organizers, and then wrote their final draft on stationary. After everyone was done with their summary, they were given materials to create their own mummy. My only rule was they had to be friendly mummies. No fangs, blood, etc. Here are some pictures of their final projects.

If you are interested in completing this project with your own students, click the picture below and snag a copy from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.


Anchor Chart Labels/Picture of my completed chart
Bulletin Board Letters (as seen in the pictures)
Graphic Organizer for sloppy copy
Final Copy Stationary
Mummy Directions

Have a great weekend and next time I’ll share a picture of a pinterest-inspired project I recently finished. 🙂

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Toni Taylor October 21, 2012 at 1:39 am


Do you have a copy of the story: Time for Kids, Animals come home to our National Parks? I cannot find it and I would like to use your anticipation guide.


becky November 1, 2012 at 2:04 am

Sorry! I tried to find an online copy but I think they are only available in our text books.


Kay November 13, 2012 at 1:48 am

I LOVE your Nonfiction Text Features posters and anchor chart. Great idea to have a visual for students. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful ideas you use in your classroom!


Erika H January 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm

For readers workshop my co teacher and I use a rubric! It covers whether they were on task, completed their entries, participated in conferences, etc. My students have workshop notebooks with different sections. Beth Newingham on scholastic has a ton of ideas! Sometimes I also give them a task to complete during readers workshop (almost like a formative assessment) that I take for a grade by itself. For example if we are studying connections I provide them with a graphic ogranizer to make a connection to themselves, another book, and the world. I can use it to see if they are understanding the concept. Hope this helps!

3rd grade


Tracy February 25, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I absolutely LOVE your ideas! We have purchased the newest version of Journeys this year, and I am finding that I am in desperate need of resources! I have made up my own little Focus Wall, but yours is FANTASTIC! One quick question, do you have your genre of the month posters available at TpT to purchase? They would be great to buy!
Thanks for the AWESOME ideas!!
4th grade


alice chapman October 18, 2013 at 2:28 am

I love your non fiction reading buddy that looks like a question mark.
Where could I get a copy of it?



Alicia Venegas October 23, 2013 at 3:14 am

I love your nonfiction text features posters. Do you have those somewhere where I can purchase them?



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