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Day 2 in my classroom as the labsite, Annie did an interactive read aloud. She read Oh Rats, the Story of Rats and People by Albert Marrin. It was a great NF picture book to use as a read aloud. Albert Marrin did a great job showing the different sides of rats. Yes, surprisingly, he was able to get you to sympathize with rats and see the benefits of them! This was great to create a chart showing the two sides of rats that the author shows and adding evidence from the text to support the different sides.
Albert Marrin divided the book into chapters that shows the different sides of rats throughout history. It was a fascinating read with many interesting facts and stories woven through out. Another aspect we looked at were the different text structures in the story. After this labsite, I decided to use Oh Rats as one of my mentor texts. My students were super excited to have me finish this book with them! In addition to this book, I used Shark Attack by Cathy Dubowski. I was introduced to this great mentor text years ago in a nonfiction writing unit with Mary Ehrenworth at the Teachers College Summer Writing Institute. This is a great hybrid text and works well in a NF unit for both writing and reading.
One of the key skills that I wanted to focus on with my students was comparing big ideas across different texts and using evidence from the text to support their thinking. I was able to use the books Shark Attack and Oh Rats because they both had some similar big ideas about these animals that the students could compare. I also used Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg and A Nation’s Hope by Matt De La Pena.
As our school has been making the shift to the common core in reading and writing workshops, it has been challenging me to have the students be able to give more specific evidence from the text to support their thinking. This is something we are also focusing on for our grade level PLCs(Professional Learning Community)! I had my students practice showing evidence by recording their thinking on long post-its during read aloud and then post-it on the charts we had. Here are two examples:
Do you have any other good nonfiction mentor text recommendations?