Districts Gear Up for Shift to Informational Texts
In an English/language arts classroom in Iowa, 10th graders are analyzing the rhetoric in books about computer geeks, fast food, teenage marketing, the working poor, chocolate-making, and diamond-mining.
Their teacher, Sarah Brown Wessling, let them choose books about those real-world topics as part of a unit on truth. Students are dissecting the sources, statistics, and anecdotes the authors use to make their arguments in books like Branded by Alissa Quart and Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. An earlier unit in the class at Johnston High School, in a Des Moines suburb, focused on film documentaries.
The units mark a heftier emphasis on nonfiction for Ms. Wessling. What she is doing reflects an intensifying focus for teachers across the country: how to develop students' skills at reading...
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