For two decades, I have sought to help students find their way as readers and writers. As I reflect back on the years I spend as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, and later University professor, I fed my students a steady diet of fiction text. I touched on nonfiction when we had a topic to research or a problem to solve, but I cautiously shied away. I had great confidence and passion for literature, and understood how to make fiction come alive. I had little personal confidence in how to help them find their way in the complexworld of information.
It wasn’t until my work expanded from literacy to content area study, that I knew I had done a disservice to my students. Yes, I had given my young students access to nonfiction books, free reign in the library to choose texts and topics they liked, but I never equipped them with the strategies they needed to read, write, speak, and comprehend the structures and elements of nonfiction writing. I now understand that it was my own experience with nonfiction that limited my ability to reach the learners I so desperately wanted to succeed.
Once an avid and confident reader, I too, struggled once I hit this new and unfamiliar genre. With foreign structures, unfamiliar words, and new challenges, I found myself behind. The strategies I practiced were more self preservation that self discovery. How could I “get through this boring stuff”? How could I remember just enough to get to the test on Friday? How fast could I copy the vocabulary worlds and make up a stupid sentence?
The urgency to become competent in this genre, and the implications for life, work, and the world if you are unable to read, write, and understand the new world of information. With the enormity of information available, children need to become savvy " prosumers” (producers AND consumers) of this genre; to learn what information is available to them, to ask questions, and to be able to discriminate and draw conclusions about its sources. Even more urgent is the demand, to create and contribute their own ideas.
Who better to help students succeed in this process, than the authors themselves? I am so thrilled to share with you, a new web site and resource for your school. The INK Think Tank is a group of award winning nonfiction authors who research and write about nonfiction. Connecting with these writers, gives students a chance to learn how writing works, how writers practice their craft , and what it takes to produce compelling work that both informs and compels.
If you have ever witnessed the joy of seeing students interact with powerful nonfiction, I encourage you to explore this next step where you can invite the authors your children study directly into your schooland classrooms.
Check out The INK BLOG where you will meet the writers your students love, and discover nonfiction in a whole new way! Enjoy!
Posted by angelamaiers.com
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