Engage Your Students With Interesting Informational Text Articles
I love using informational text articles in my classes. I rarely ever use a textbook, even though I have them. There are just so many interesting images and animations online that I much prefer to use technology in my instruction.
Finding interesting articles at the right reading level isn’t always easy though. My students find reading and analyzing a bit easier when they have actual paper to work with, so I like to find text articles that I can print out. That way, we can work together to highlight, underline, circle, and annotate to our hearts’ content!
These articles coordinate very well with Cornell notes. Read my blog post on how I use Cornell notes in my classroom. Sometimes I input the questions into the notes myself. Other times I write an essential question or “big idea” focus at the top of the note sheet and have students take notes based on that. These are also easy to differentiate for different classes or even individual students within a class.
What Can You Do With Text Articles?
- One thing that I like to do with a class of low readers is to number each paragraph in the article before xeroxing. Then I group my students and assign each group one or two paragraphs to read. They’ll highlight the main idea, pick out one or two unfamiliar vocabulary terms, define the terms, and write a question that can be answered from their reading onto a sticky note.
- The sticky note then goes up on our “parking lot.”
- As they’re working I circulate around and make sure each group is on track. When they’re finished, each group goes up to our document camera in order of their paragraphs and shares all of their information with the rest of the class. This allows the whole class to get the gist of an article and makes it easier for lower readers to understand.
- Each group then goes up to the parking lot to see if they can pick out the question that goes with each paragraph. I’ve found that it encourages the groups to write higher-order questions because they like to try to stump their classmates!
- Another idea is to write some comprehension, or “detailed reading” questions to go with the text article. Again, these can be differentiated according to your groups’ abilities. They can work in pairs or individually to complete them.
- I also like to do some sort of vocabulary activity with these articles. It’s usually something where they use context clues to predict the meanings of the words (I usually pick out the terms initially) and then define them to see how close they came in their predictions. Then I have them add any other unfamiliar terms of their choosing and do the same thing.
- Some articles lend themselves well to having students draw. For example, they can draw timelines, sequential diagrams, bar graphs, cycles … in science especially this type of activity can really help students’ understanding.
I’ve often resorted to writing my own articles because I couldn’t find anything engaging at the reading levels that I needed. I found that I REALLY enjoyed doing this! So there’s a new product line taking shape in my Teachers Pay Teachers store providing fun, engaging informational text articles. I’m writing them on interesting animals, with some cool details that will help to hook your students.
These articles include activities including vocabulary work, comprehension questions, and extension activities. I put a fun QR code in each one that links to a short Youtube video (I also included the URL) with some questions that are answered from the video.
As of this writing I have 3 written … one on pistol shrimp, one on vampire bats and one on monarch butterflies. I’m particularly proud of these!
If you’d like to check these out, click the image below to see the one on Migrating Monarchs.
If you try any of these ideas, or have some that you’d like to share with us, please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!