The new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) mean major changes for language arts teachers, and we are in the process of digesting these changes, particularly the increased emphasis on what the standards call “informational text.” How do we balance attention toward informational texts without taking away from the teaching of literature (fiction, drama, and poetry)?
The CCSS set a high bar for language arts teachers. Teachers need to be able to incorporate nonfiction in ways that are meaningful, substantive, and connected to the rest of the literary curriculum.
Expectations, however, without sufficient resources and professional development do not ensure positive or effective change. We know language arts teachers are busy professionals with a host of responsibilities both in and outside the classroom. The Using Informational Text to Teach Literature series is designed as an invaluable supportive tool.
The key is selecting informational texts that are deeply connected to the literary texts you are teaching. Working carefully with these informational texts will allow your students to strengthen and enrich their analysis of the literary texts while developing the skills associated with the standards for reading informational text.
Finding and preparing informational texts for classroom use, however, requires time and effort. The Using Informational Text to Teach Literature series is designed to help.
For each volume in the series, we offer a variety of informational texts connected to a commonly taught anchor text, such as To Kill a Mockingbird. From these pieces, you can choose those that will enhance your approach to the primary text. Each informational text is presented as part of a unit in a student-friendly format and annotated with reading strategies and a variety of activities for classroom and at-home use.
The resources we have assembled will make it easier for you to adjust and adapt to the new standards, thus reinvigorating your teaching and your students’ engagement with Mockingbird. Mostly, the resources will allow you to make your language arts classroom a place for you and your students to have fun while experiencing the joys of learning about literature.