Informational Text

ELA: High-Interest Informational Text for Differentiated Instruction

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Love Scholastic’s StoryWorks or Scope magazine? Have you discovered Action yet?

actionScholastic’s Action was designed as a high-interest magazine intended to boost the reading and writing skills of at-risk middle and high school readers. Like StoryWorks and Scope, each issue is directly aligned to the Idaho Core ELA Standards and includes informational text, reader’s theater for building fluency, paired texts, and argumentative writing prompts. Many English Language Arts teachers at both River City and Post Falls Middle School currently use StoryWorks and Scope magazine. Scope magazine is an integral part of the Middle School Summer School program as well.

Teachers who subscribe to Action magazine receive additional lesson planning materials and online resources. However, many of the informational text passages are currently available online free of charge.

Like Newsela, each Action article is written at a low, a middle, and  a high reading level which allows teachers to easily differentiate instruction for all types of readers. Multiple levels of texts allows all students to be included in the instructional process and contribute to the in-class learning environment.  Currently, passages can be found anywhere from 420L to 1060L allowing teachers to meet the needs of all learners. Scholastic Action has made the lower and higher Lexile passages available for teachers to print. The middle Lexile passages are available for digital download and also include an audio option for those students needing additional support. Digital companion videos and links are also available.

Know another great source for secondary level text? Let me know!


ELA: Overview of the Six Shifts in the Idaho Core Standards

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Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 8.45.23 AMReading teachers and paraprofessionals from all five elementary schools spent Monday morning in a workshop session at Post Falls High School. Paraprofessionals were introduced to the basic format of the Idaho Core Standards in ELA as well as the new Smarter Balanced Assessment before diving into the six instructional shifts in ELA associated with the Common Core Standards.

If you’d like a refresher (or introduction) to the ELA Idaho Core Standards feel free to click through the Prezi used during the workshop. The Prezi contains valuable videos, links, and resources for each shift. They are also downloadable below.

Teachers and paraprofessionals walked away from the training with new tools for close reading and writing text-dependent questions as well as strategies for supporting at-risk readers in vocabulary development and writing from texts. Teachers also revisited the foundational skills that need to be taught at each grade level for students to meet the rigorous demands of informational text. Be sure to ask them to share some of their new knowledge!

Foundational Skills

Text Complexity

Text-Dependent Questions

Academic Vocabulary

Writing from Sources

Check out the Prezi for videos and online links!jennifer-signature

ELA: Spring into Reading

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Spring is finally here! Check out these three resources  for a little something extra to celebrate this week . All resources are aligned to the Idaho Core Standards.

springTry this March Madness Vocabulary Bracket from Vocab Girl at Sadlier Publishing. Students can use the brackets to set up matches between vocabulary words. Winners can be determined by the strongest definitions and corresponding sentences until each student determines their own “Ultimate Vocabulary Word.” This is perfect for reinforcing Tier 2 vocabulary in the intermediate and secondary classroom.  The download is free after registering on the site.

One of my favorite sites for informational text, Readworks, released 12 new K-1 reading passages for the first day of spring. These are perfect short texts for introducing close reading at the primary level. Lexile ranges on these passages range from 110L to 520L. By registering your email address you will  be given free access to all of Readworks passages, lessons, and question sets. 

It’s also the 45th anniversary of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar today! Check out the videos below of a kindergarten teacher closely reading the book with a group of students for some springtime inspiration.

ELA: Digging into Informational Text Staff Development

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Digging into Informational TextInformational text is a major focus of the Idaho Core Standards, but one of the hardest struggles for teachers is wading through all the resources available online.

During the months of March and April I will be visiting several Post Falls schools to help teachers navigate the world of informational text and locate  high-quality text online as well as open educational resources available to teachers and how to use them. 

During these 30-45 minute session teachers will visit several free online sites and be given the opportunity to team with others and share resources.

I will be at the following buildings in March and April.

  • West Ridge Elementary – March 10
  • Prairie View Elementary – March 24
  • Ponderosa Elementary – April 28
  • Seltice Elementary – TBA
  • Mullan Trail Elementary – TBA
  • Post Falls Middle School – TBA
  • River City Middle School – TBA

Want to get started early? Check out these resources!jennifer-signature

ELA: Using Google Docs and Informational Text

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Check out this short “How-To” video from teacher and  educational blogger Richard Byrne. He demonstrates how he takes informational text, copies it into Google Docs, and then facilitates online collaboration with his students. Way cool!

Looking for a great source for Informational Text? Check out these four resources!




ELA: Close Reading — What it Looks Like

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In this video from EngageNY,  fifth grade students in Andrew Hossack’s class use close reading strategies to determine the main idea and key details from an informational newspaper article.

Want more strategies for close reading in your classroom? Check out these other Curriculum & Technology posts about close reading.

Still not sure? I’d be happy to demonstrate close reading strategies in your classroom. jennifer-signature

ELA: Informational Text Sources for February

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Need leveled informational text sources? Try these four sites for free reading materials for students K-12!


Newsela: (Must create a free account to view resources.) Change Lexile range of each article using the toolbar on the right hand side of the screen.

Library of Congress:

Discovery Education: (Must sign-in to view resources.)