Informational text is all the rage, yes? Hmm, depends on whom you ask. This article presents opposing points of view: "Fiction vs. nonfiction smackdown".
We've been studying news stories and how to summarize them, using articles from TweenTribune.com, my go-to source for informational text that engages student interest and are easy to use in instruction. Last week I chose 4 short articles, divided students into 4 groups, and gave each group an article. I modeled how to pull out the key details - who, what, where, when, why/how - and present a summary. The groups worked together to read, identify key details, and present summaries. This week students worked independently and used computers to search for articles on that web site. I insisted that each student in the class had a unique article. Students searched, read, identified key details, and presented their summaries to the class. During presentations, they stood next to the SmartBoard that showed the article on the web site, which showed a photograph and allowed us to "fact check" on the spot.
I've taught this unit before, and it always highlights student interest in news stories and struggles in identifying key details. Since this is a news story unit, I teach them to look for narratives that feature some newsworthy current event. Their two main challenges are identifying the newsworthy event itself and understanding cause/effect relationships in the story.