It seems, in my mind, it doesn’t hold the same validity as novels for readers' workshop. I don’t believe certain forms have those large chunks of text that my students need to develop stamina in their reading. I don’t trust that my students are reading every page. I don’t see it as an easily measurable genre in my workshop format. I need fight this reaction and begin to see all that nonfiction can bring.
I also need to show that nonfiction is valid and important, instead of turning up my nose when they are reading it and asking about their next novel. I was lucky enough to go to the Heinneman Literacy Retreat last summer, where I worked with many fabulous educators. Kylene Beers & Bob Probst shared their research and new understandings from the creation of Reading NonFiction. They state, “Fiction invites us into the writer’s imagined world; nonfiction intrudes into ours and purports to tell us something about it.” We want our students to gain knowledge about our world and explore it through passionate and knowledgeable eyes. We need to help our students understand how nonfiction works, to understand the persuasion tactics that can be embedded into it, to learn how a new understanding can lead us to even more discoveries. Nonfiction texts have the power to challenge and change us. How important is that?
How NonFiction November Changed Me
Now I've got to take action a give my new understandings a place in my program.
First, I've created very simple Nonfiction Reading Response Bookmarks, so if my students are reading nonfiction they have a response tactic they can turn to. This will embed nonfiction into my program and provide it with the validity it deserves. This will be especially timely with our upcoming Social Justice Unit where they will be exploring nonfiction of all kinds on topics they are passionate about.
Second, I’m going dwelve deeper into the teaching of nonfiction. Ordering Reading Nonfiction will be a start, as well as checking out a number of great blog posts out there due to Nonfiction November. Popping over to two of my favourite teaching blogs, Two Writing Teachers & The Dirigible Plum will be a good start, as well as, following the #nonficnov celebration hosted through Sophisticated Dorkiness. Checking out the Information Writing Twitter Chat tonight at 8:30 will be a good crossover too! (Information on the chat below!)
Finally, I’m going to celebrate Nonfiction November in my library! This ties in nicely with Remembrance Day and all the amazing texts that go with this important day. I’ll be creating response tickets based on the bookmark for students across divisions to complete once they've finished a nonfiction book. Completed responses with copies of the book covers will be on our bulletin boards and in displays. Perhaps having a nonfiction author in to visit would be nice too. It will be good to support an author to help make up for my years of bias. Redemption can be sweet!
How do you celebrate Nonfiction November? I'd love to hear about it!