Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Online Resources for Nonfiction Reading with English Learners

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One of my absolute favorite things is working with students on nonfiction reading and writing.......

It is so awesome to see how excited they get about learning new things....when the topics are interesting to them and the resources are at their reading level.

When I use nonfiction reading resources with students, I follow an inquiry model to help set a purpose for our interactions with the text:

  • questioning
  • researching
  • discussing
  • creating
  • reflecting
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I also do a lot of modeling the steps in the inquiry process:
  • How do I write a question?
  • What should my questions be about?
  • How do I read a nonfiction text?
  • How do I take notes from nonfiction text?
  • What do I do if I don't understand a word in a text?
  • What was the most important thing I just read (summarizing)?
  • Does this relate back to my inquiry question?
  • What do I want to share about my topic?
  • What would be the best way to share what I've learned?
  • Who do I want to share my learning with?
  • How do I write a paragraph?
  • Now that I'm done, what did I like about this project? What would I do differently next time?

Over the past two years, I have discovered some quality online resources for nonfiction texts -- unfortunately not all of them are free...but those that have a cost associated with them at least offer free trials.

Here's a quick rundown of my go-to sites for leveled or Engligh learner-friendly nonfiction texts:
  • National Geographic Explorer Magazine - identical content and photos at different reading levels
  • - a wealth of leveled nonfiction passages, complete with lesson ideas and assessments (all available for free!)
  • Education World: News for Kids - a site with several high interest articles for kids (with a 'words to know' section) - complete with teaching resources and ideas for each article (free!)
  • Washington Post: KidPost - current events in kid-friendly language
  • Reading A-Z - leveled, printable / projectable books on various topics; includes lesson plans, student handouts and comprehension quizzes (free 7-day trial, then requires a subscription)
  • Science A-Z - leveled, printable / projectable texts on various science topics; includes lesson plans, student handouts and comprehension quizzes (free 7-day trial, then requires a subscription)
  • Tumblebooks - online collection of animated, talking picture books - includes a growing number of nonfiction books on various topics (free 30-day trial, then requires a subscription)

One amazing site that facilitates student interactions with nonfiction text (or any kind of text) is:
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  • - collection of common core literacy lesson plans and online student activities and resources for interacting with text in meaningful ways


Those a just a few of the many excellent sites and resources out there for teaching students to love nonfiction reading...  
I'd love to hear about other sites and resources you use for nonfiction text with English learners -- feel free to comment below!

Happy reading!

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go."
— Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"