Facebook Twitter RSS

Why is Informational Text Reading Comprehension Important?

 Posted by on December 23, 2019  Behind the Scenes of StarrMatica, Content Recommendations, Reading Resources, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Why is Informational Text Reading Comprehension Important?
Dec 232019

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 information from a written text if any inference or background 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, 2009).

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).

Frustrated 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 as well.

We 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.

I’m Jumping In! Facebook Live on Wednesdays at 7:15 pm CST

 Posted by on June 27, 2017  Uncategorized  Comments Off on I’m Jumping In! Facebook Live on Wednesdays at 7:15 pm CST
Jun 272017

Girl Juggling ClocksJoin us for StarrMatica’s first Facebook Live broadcast this Wednesday, June 28th at 7:15 pm CST.


Why Wednesday, you ask?  Well, because that seems to be the day of the week that I consistently am able to steal a few moments away from my 2 ½ year old and 3 month old to take a shower and will be presentable for the camera.  And why 7:15 pm?  Well for me, the kids are in bed and there is a good chance I won’t be interrupted.  I am also hoping that you, too, have settled in for the evening and will have a few moments to join me to learn about exciting new resources for your classroom.

What to expect:  Each week, I’ll spend a quick 5-10 minutes sharing with you an interesting digital resource and giving ideas for how to use it in your classroom.  This week’s topic: How I went from teacher to business owner (and how you can too.)  Whether or not you are interested in starting your own business (I wasn’t!) the information is valuable (and possibly entertaining!)  I’ll also share my all time favorite digital resource you can access for free!

Looking forward to meeting you online every Wednesday at 7:15 pm CST!  www.facebook.com/starrmatica


Former 4th Grade Teacher

President/CEO StarrMatica.com

Fund Your StarrMatica Membership On #Giving Tuesday

 Posted by on November 22, 2016  Uncategorized  Comments Off on Fund Your StarrMatica Membership On #Giving Tuesday
Nov 222016
What is #GivingTuesday?
          Everyone is familiar with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the days you are able to get massive discounts on items in stores and online. While scoring sweet deals is surely something to be excited about, we know of an even better day. We’re talking about #GivingTuesday, which is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and this year it’s on November 29th.#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving.
          It’s the perfect time to create and share your fundraiser for StarrMatica so that you can bring it to your students at no additional cost to you (because we all know that teachers already spend way too much!)
          Our partners at PledgeCents have streamlined the approach to online fundraising. You can now sign-up and submit your fundraiser for StarrMatica in literally seconds! 
How Do I Create a StarrMatica Cause?
It takes just 3 easy steps to create a cause for StarrMatica on PledgeCents:
          1.  Follow this link to sign up for PledgeCents: SIGN UP HERE
          2.  Choose the number of teacher accounts you need.
          3.  You will be emailed a link to your cause.  Use Facebook and Twitter to share it with the world!  On #GivingTuesday, people will be looking to donate to worthy causes.  And your students are a very worth cause!
          4.  Once the funds are raised, we will contact you directly to activate your account.
How Do I Win Even More Funds for StarrMatica?
          What’s even more exciting? PledgeCents will be hosting a #GivingTuesday contest where you can score even more funds.  Learn more about the contest by clicking here.
          And if you create your cause on #CyberMonday or #GivingTuesday, PledgeCents will donate $1 to your cause for every Facebook share you generate of your cause up to $150.  That’s almost 1/2 of a teacher membership just for sharing your cause!
          Don’t miss out on this giving season! Everyone can spare a few seconds… create your fundraiser today!
          Best of all, if you don’t reach your goal, you still get to keep any amount of money you raise. Let us know how we can help you create your StarrMatica cause on PledgeCents for #GivingTuesday!

Puffin Academy: StarrMatica on iPads and Androids

 Posted by on March 17, 2016  Uncategorized  Comments Off on Puffin Academy: StarrMatica on iPads and Androids
Mar 172016

Puffin Icon

If you have iPad or Android devices in your classroom, download the FREE Puffin Academy app.  It will allow you to access StarrMatica and many other Flash-based websites on your devices!


1.  Download the Puffin Academy app.

2.  Open the app and search for StarrMatica.

3.  Click the StarrMatica icon.  When the StarrMatica Puffin page opens, click the link to our website: www.starrmatica.com

4.  Login as usual and enjoy!StarrMatica Icon

You also have the option on the StarrMatica Puffin page to click Install.  This will put a StarrMatica icon on your Puffin Academy home page for easy access every time you open Puffin Academy.