ELA Summer Book Club- Chapter 3

Reading Standards for Informational Text

This chapter offered a plethora of information on reading informational texts. It stated, “Many teachers and school districts have built their reading instruction with fiction as the center, giving informational reading short shrift.” How true is this for classrooms across the United States? Across the world?

The standards for informational text reading are broken into four groups:

1. Key Ideas and Details
2. Craft and Structure
3. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
4. Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

According to the reading in Chapter 3, there are four guidelines that can help when designing the instruction for creating competent reading of informational text. One is to “always use more than a single text with students.” You can provide supplemental informational readings in addition to your novel or textbook story. This allows the students to examine the various texts and come up with similarities and differences in the texts.

 A second guideline is to “help students identify some of the most commonly used text organizational patterns in informational materials.” For this guideline, one word resonates in my head: MODEL. It is imperative that teachers model for the students what their expectations are. If we do not model for them, then they have no idea of how to find what is needed. Opportunities for looking at different organizational patterns in text are needed for students to become deeper thinkers while reading. Encouraging teachers provide these opportunities and the support needed to help students reach their potential. 

Here is an example given in the text of the progression of skills for grades 3 through 5 for RI.3.5, RI.4.5, and RI.5.5 (Craft and Structure):

3rd Grade: Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently
4th Grade: Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text
5th Grade: Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text

A third guideline is “students need to take an active role in thinking about the text ideas as they read.” For classrooms that have not incorporated a lot of informational texts, this may take a little longer to master. Students need to be taught how to ask and answer questions to demonstrate their understanding of a text. Thinking deeply about texts is a must in CCSS classrooms. 

A fourth guideline is “when reading informational texts, remember that these are authored just as pieces of fiction are, and attention to the author and the quality of the written text can help students understand the role of authorship and writing across genres.”

Using the CCSS throughout the school day will be easier for teachers who have developed units using themes from science and social studies. I love the example the author gives of Ms. Scalin's classroom integrated unit on butterflies. When you read how someone else has been successful in the classroom, it generates more ideas to use and gives examples of how to design your own units. Because science and social studies lends themselves to informational reading, it makes sense to build units around topics that fit into your grade level. 

I have included three discussion questions in the comments section below. Please add your thoughts to the questions. If you have other questions, please feel free to add them as a separate comment. 

If you missed Chapter 1, CLICK HERE. If you missed the post about Chapter 2, CLICK HERE


  1. 1. Has your classroom been centered on fiction, or have you always had a good balance of fiction and non-fiction in your classroom?

    1. I am SO guilty of having the Fiction centered classroom- until two years ago when our students had to start taking a reading test MONTHLY to monitor their reading and comprehension. They were performing horribly. I got with the test administrator and looked over the tests. Well. low and behold, they were ALL NON-FICTION! My kiddos were not prepared for this kind of reading. They lacked the skills to do so. DING DING! Mr. Hughes decided that he should put just as more OR MORE emphasis on non-fictional texts. It was amazing the difference it made after a couple of months. YES MONTHS! I started doing 15 minutes of fictional text reading and 15 minutes of non-fiction text reading each day. This built until they were doing 20ish minutes of each.

      Now I am the writing teacher, and don't have the ability to focus on reading skills as much, but I made a HUGE effort last year to focus more on informational type writing in my classroom, knowing that if they could write it, they would better be able to read it.

      WOW! That was a long answer... ha ha. Apparently I feel passionately that we need a balance, or, even stronger emphasis on non-fiction. However, it is important not to throw fictional reading out the window!

    2. Mine, too, has for the most part been centered around fiction. My students are more successful with fiction books. With the implementation of the CCSS, I knew that I would have to shift my focus (although my focus should have shifted earlier). I had a hard time this year getting my students to "buy in" to non-fiction books.

      They can check out two books at a time from our school library. I began to make the requirement that one book needed to be fiction and the other book non-fiction. This seemed to work. I also supplemented a lot of informational reading into our curriculum.

  2. 2. How have you incorporated informational texts into your language arts classroom?

  3. 3. Where have you found good sources of informational texts?

    1. I am always on the prowl for non-fiction texts. I try to find books and magazines that will support my science and social studies curriculum. That way I am double dipping... ha ha. But, I have over 500 non-fiction books in my classroom that I have been collecting for 13 years. It takes time. Scholastic is my main go to, but Amazon will have some killer buy 3 get 1 free deals!

    2. I am so jealous of your classroom library. That is amazing!