Using TweenTribune.com, which contains mostly news articles from Associated Press, students chose articles to read and summarize. Summarizing is a difficult task for most of my students, so I give them a "who/what/where/when/why/how" organizer to complete. Most students would ask, "What do I write for why or how?" Then we discuss the topic/subject of their article and what explanation or elaboration is necessary for a summary.
Using TimeforKids.com/news, students studied traditional news article features, such as subtitles, byline, caption. They chose the articles, identified the features, and stated the main idea after reading the article. Identifying the main idea is tricky for many students who focus on supporting details or prefer to summarize.
Coming up next - a "benchmark assessment" interlude in which students will take a practice standardized test. (Due to my class schedule, students only come to my class once in 4 school days and will take three weeks to finish this assessment.)
After the benchmark assessment, we continue with the informational text unit and ... WRITE BOOKS. Students will choose their own topics, then research informational texts (such as how-to articles, background history of their subjects) and persuasive writings to copy/paste into the books (with proper citations, of course). The books will include some original student writing, such as summaries, main idea statements, paraphrasing practice (another difficult task), personal narratives, glossary of terms, "about the author" page.
I will stay one step ahead of their book writing (to model and for fun) with my own book on the subject of ... KNITTING. To show off, I mean, demonstrate my knitting hobby, here's a photo of one recently completed project:
Illustrations and other visual details will be highly encouraged and supported in this book project.
In other words, this book adventure is the nonfiction version of NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned, folks :)