With the common core, students from all grade levels will be working with informational text far more than in the past. Now, in high school for example, 70% of all reading assignments must be based on non-fiction or informational text. Fiction readings will make up the remaining 30%. Why the shift? If American students are to eventually become members of the global workforce, they must have sharp literacy skills. Currently, this is not the case for many minority students.
In California, ELLs seem to be hardest hit here. Their English skills often times do not evolve beyond intermediate level. Such low literacy skills lead to their dropping out of high school and taking minimum wage jobs. Those who do go on to college often times go to two year colleges where the majority tend to drop out after only a year. This trend must be reversed. Common core standards may do just that:)
Where can teachers start with informational text? As an initial exposure to it regardless of grade level, why not start with newspapers? They are everywhere with some still being free online. Activities can be devised around advertising (analyzing ad contents), editorials (what position is the writer taking and prove it), headlines--do they truly prepare a reader for the story that follows, etc. Teachers can assign topics to groups (provide students with choices) to research and then report out to the class. Students here within their groups would be carefully weighing the nuanced meaning of every word so that they can truly capture the full meaning of the text.
This article offers many activities to help teachers weave newspaper reading easily into the classroom. Have students keep reading logs on their findings. This is especially helpful for ELLs as it helps them grow in English on all levels. They are all free:)
THE NEWSPAPER-ULTIMATE SOURCE OF INFORMATIONAL TEXT
ELL TEACHER PROS