Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How important is it to teach students to read informational texts?

We all know there are still questions and some confusion about teaching students to read informational texts. The true, clear definition of "informational text" isn't ultimately defined, and teachers still have questions about what the goals of this shift and how to make changes in their classroom . This article from Educational Leadership ultimately comes to the conclusion that regardless of whether you are teaching informational texts or classic literature, the ultimate goal is getting the students to read both and find a balance to better educate students for college.

"But there has been one kind of criticism leveled against the new mandates—and it targets informational text. The new standards have asked for big increases in rigor and the level of instruction in reading, added prominence to a literary canon, proposed a shift from an emphasis on personal writing to one on academic writing, expanded literacy teaching into the disciplines of history and science, promoted deeper analysis of the ideas and arguments in texts, and placed a new emphasis on inquiry and 21st century research tools (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices [NGA] & Council of Chief State Schools Officers [CCSSO], 2010). Despite all those momentous changes, the major grumbles have been aimed at the fact that the standards encourage more reading of informational text at school."

In trying to encourage this shift, the CCSS committees have suggested that you pay attention to quantitative measures of complexity like Lexile® Measures and Flesch-Kincaid and qualitative measures that are difficult to define, and balance those with tasks considerations that emphasize rigor and require students to include textual justification for their analysis. To help you manage this shift, Prestwick House has developed Reading Informational Texts for grades 7-12 with a close eye on the guidelines and requirements of the Common Core State Standards.

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