Making Informational Text Easier

The last two weeks have been difficult.  We are starting our countdown to our district benchmark test, the students are starting to get ‘spring fever’ AND we are analyzing informational text.

I forgot how difficult this is for my students.  Last week we took a test over an informational text that I thought would be a good sample to understand my students.

unfortunately, the results were not at all what I expected.

Rotation 1 = 76%

Rotation 2 = 56%

Rotation 3= 50%

This hurt!!! A LOT!! It took the entire weekend to figure out how I was going to revamp my plans to dig deep and help my students.

New plans…

I was able to rewrite my plans to allow every student to meet with me in small group, so I could talk with each student and really HEAR their concerns and misunderstandings.  I chose to have the students read a Scholastic/Scope article over Malala.  This is probably our fifth time to read about her this year; we have read quotes, excerpts, and her prologue to her book this year.  I wanted something that my students had background knowledge on, but something that was challenging, so it could truly assess what was going on.

My small groups….

  • They chose their preview strategy- GPPS or Crack Open Headings
    • GPPS– identify specific genre, author’s purpose, point of view, overall structure
    • Crack Open Headings(probably MY personal favorite.  While I was teaching this strategy, my light bulb went off.  I wish I would have known this one a long time ago.) Before actually reading ,the student turn each HEADING into a question.  This question becomes their purpose for reading.  If they don’t know the answer after reading, they read again- closer. 
  • They chose their reading strategy- Notice and Note, Main Idea CAKE or text structure graphic organizer  (if the group was split on the strategy, I allowed them to split up into groups as I checked with each smaller group frequently).
    • Notice and Note– While reading, the students take notes about different things they notice.
    • Main Idea CAKE– (my students’ favorite) After each section the students fill out the subject, main idea sentence, and details from each section. The graphic organizer looks like a birthday cake, so we call it CAKE.
    • Text Structure– The students identify the text structure of each section and fill out a graphic organizer with the correct information.
  • When the reading was over, the students had to write a STAAR-like question from the stem list I provided.
*The students do a great job of explaining the above strategies in the slideshow below. *

Other students worked on …

I wanted something that they could work on that was meaningful and helped them review for the up coming assessment.

  • Each student folded a piece of construction paper into 12 equal blocks.
  • labeled each horizontal area a genre that will be tested on the assessment
  • labeled each vertical area – Preview, Read, Comprehension
  • The students had to determine which strategy they have learned for each genre and each reading goal helped them the most.
  • They had to sketch it, explain it and tell me why it helps them.

This kept the students focused, but most of all, it has given us all an idea of what strategies they will be using on the assessment when they are struggling through the text.

The Close Notes from TPT


The strategies that the students chose from come from our Close Reading Notes pages, which you can find at my Teachers pay teachers account.  (click on the blue to be sent to my page).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



I took the student made test questions and added them to our Socrative account.  This Friday the students took the assessment created by their peers.

The Results

Rotation 1= 86%

Rotation 2= 73%

Rotation 3= 55%

60% passing last week to 72% passing a week later.  I think that is progress in the right direction.  Still not great, but the student feedback and the buy-in with the strategies is what I really wanted to hear.  Things are looking up!


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