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Day 14: Research on Teaching About and With Informational Texts

There is no clever spin to this article. It's an article on research. It's a gasp literature review (wait I'm teaching a class on literature review next month). As far as dissertations go, people who do this type of article well find that their chapter 2 is a snap. That was my worse chapter. This is why I must read more of these. I need to discipline myself to read these and give honor to the work that others do to value research done by others in order to make connections for the reader.

Maloch, B. & Bomer, R. (2013). Teaching about and with informational texts: What does research teach us? Language Arts, 90 (6), 441-450. Retrieved from

What is Sacred:
This article talks about both the effect of bringing informational text into elementary classrooms as well as what research says about the types of informational texts that work best (regular versus hybrid). It also looks at the effect of explicit skills teaching about the genre in order to get students to write informational texts.

The conclusion is that  there is no one answer on how, just that there is enough research to say that elementary teachers should move forward in instruction around informational texts. Give them a range of texts (including hybrid), guide them through authentic activities with the text, engage them in dialogue around those texts, be explicit about comprehension strategies and text structures and features as appropriate to the developmental levels of the students.

What seems abundantly clear to us from the research is that this explicit instruction is only effective for real reading and writing inasmuch as it is situated within authentic opportunities for reading and writing informational texts--opportunities that reflect what children might encounter outside of school. 

Connections to Current/Future Work:
As I am writing this I realize that like informational texts and Shakesperean sonnets, once I figured out the key to making meaning for certain genres, every other text is easier to understand. So read the introduction, read the conclusion, skim through the connections in between and use the reference and appendices as ways to get more information. Like informational texts, read tables and figures as text.

So how do I teach my chapter 2 literature review class? Share my own process, do some explicit teaching about the genre and put in their hands model works. Give them time to read and write and discuss.


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