The second grade performance expectation 2-LS2-1 asks students to: “Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.” In our second grade informational text for this performance expectation, Seeds Everywhere! by Sarah Wassner Flynn, students learn different ways animals spread seeds. You can access the text here.
After students have read the text, you might interest students in playing this interactive game online where students are challenged to collect seeds that are dispersed in different ways:
This is a great engineering lesson plan that aligns well with the performance expectation. Students are asked to design a seed that could travel a long distance. The plan includes videos that show students different ways seeds are dispersed and discuss how the design of the seed is important to the process.
Seeds Everywhere! is found in, StarrMatica Texts: Science Your Way, a collection of informational texts written specifically to address every K-5 NGSS Performance Expectation. All texts in the collection begin with a phenomenon photo and are written at six different Lexile levels, so all students can read the same content at their reading level. You can find out more about StarrMatica Texts: Science Your Wayhere.
It sounds like a silly question if you are a teacher. We know students need to understand what they read, but maybe you haven’t stopped to really think about the question in awhile. It may seem counterintuitive, but just because your students read fluently doesn’t mean they understand what they read. This is a dangerous pitfall, because if we hear a student reading fluently, we often assume they are a good reader.
Assessing reading comprehension is further
complicated when students who are able to comprehend fiction passages, may not
be comprehend informational texts. Literary passages simply do not require the same
set of comprehension skills as informational texts.
This issue of comprehending
informational texts was identified in 1993 when researchers found “nearly 44 million American adults
cannot extract even a single piece of informationfrom a written textifany inference orbackground knowledge is required” (Levy, 1993). Not much since 1993 has
happened to address the issue. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders can
only read at or below a basic level according to the 2015 National Assessment
of Educational Progress (NAEP) (The Nation’s Report Card, 2015). Researchers have even identified a “fourth
grade slump” they attribute to issues with comprehending informational text
(Biancarosa & Snow, 2006; Chall & Jacobs, 2003; Sanacore & Palumbo,
It is no surprise success in school, career and society depends on a student’s ability to comprehend informational text (Duke 2004). But did you know, increasing a child’s ability to comprehend informational text also increases overall reading achievement (Duke, 2004)? Did you know, reading informational texts increases a child’s background knowledge and background knowledge accounts for as much as 33 percent of the variance in student achievement (Marzano, 2000)? And did you know, a major predictor of overall student achievement is the ability to use comprehension strategies during content area reading (Duke, 2003b; Hall & Sabey, 2007; Vacca et al., 2009)? These are some of the reasons why the writers of the Common Core recommend increasing the instructional time spent with informational text during elementary school from 10% to 50% (Coleman, 2011). Is 50% of your reading instructional time spent with informational texts? Probably not. I know as a fourth grade teacher, I didn’t meet this goal for a variety of reasons including not enough access to informational texts and the inability of students to independently read the texts I did have in my classroom.
So, what can you do to help your
students with informational text comprehension?
Not only does comprehending informational text require a different set
of strategies for students than when reading fiction, it also requires a
different set of strategies for teachers:
Students need to be proactively taught to identify and understand informational text features first and foremost (Bamford & Kristo, 1998).
Students benefit from learning multiple comprehension strategies while they are reading (McKeown et al., 2009).
The more informational texts a student reads, the better their ability to comprehend text (Brenner & Hiebert, 2010).
Informational texts should be carefully integrated into the curriculum (Strauss, 2010).
Informational texts should be matched to the student’s reading level (Lennon, C. & Burdick, H., 2004).
with the lack of informational text resources, we decided to come up with a new
solution based on research to help teachers with informational text
instruction. StarrMatica Texts:
Science Your Way is a library of customizable informational texts written
specifically to address the Next Generation Science Standards. StarrMatica
Texts: Science Your Way helps teachers access and integrate informational
texts into their curriculum during ELA or science instructional time. Unique to
our resource, texts can be adjusted to a student’s individual reading level, so
all students can read the same text. Corresponding comprehension instructions are
taught throughout the text and Common Core-aligned quiz questions are provided
are excited about StarrMatica Texts: Science Your Way and will keep you
updated on our progress through upcoming blogs. Please visit our website
or contact us directly to learn more.
Create a customized map! Zoom in to a chosen area of the United States. Then select the features you would like to see represented by checking and unchecking boxes. It includes a point tool, line tool, ruler, and icon set.
STEM teaching encourages students to solve authentic problems and to collaborate with others to design, build, test, and re-tool until a solution is achieved. A library of content supports this integrated vision of STEM learning with its library design which allows educators to choose content that complements and supports in class hands-on investigations. In this way, educators can integrate technology into instruction in flexible ways to teach foundational STEM skills and to encourage problem solving and group collaboration. The following are concrete examples of digital content from each STEM area.
If you haven’t joined us yet, set a reminder on your calendar for this Wednesday at 7:15 pm CST to join us for our next Facebook Live Video! Every week, I go live on Facebook for 5 – 10 minutes to share specific digital content that may be helpful in your classroom. Past video topics are hyperlinked below: