Informational text is more important to teachers than ever before, especially with the rise of the Common Core standards. The Library of Congress is an excellent resource for finding and using texts to build students’ reading skills.
The Library can help in at least two ways:
1. Free informational texts. The Library’s Web site, loc.gov, is a quick and reliable source of primary source informational texts on a wide range of topics. Under the Common Core State Standards, “informational text” includes a wide range of media and formats, and the Library has them all online for easy searching: biographies; newspapers; maps; technical texts; digital sources.
2. Teacher tools for analyzing informational text. The Library’s teacher resource site, loc.gov/teachers, provides the tools you need to help your students analyze informational text, including lesson plans, presentations, professional development, and sets of primary sources. The Library’s primary source analysis tool guides students through analysis prompts that cover more than a half-dozen formats.
The Library’s tools help students build the skills addressed in the Common Core reading standards: Close reading for key ideas and details, analyzing craft and structure, and integrating knowledge and ideas.
An easy way to start is with the Library’s primary source sets, which let teachers quickly find a variety of informational texts in different formats on a single topic. For example, teachers can use items from the Library’s new primary source set on the Spanish-American War to fulfill a number of reading objectives.
- Have students analyze one of the articles on the front page of the San Francisco Call. Students can identify the article’s central idea and the author’s point of view on the prospect of war with Spain, citing specific evidence from the article to support their theories.
- Selecting one of the other newspaper articles in the set, or even the anti-war pamphlet Save the Republic, students can analyze how two different authors address the same topic. A close reading of each article will allow them to identify what evidence each author cites, and to compare the persuasive strategies each uses.
- Students can analyze one of the images in the set, such as “Explosion of the Maine”, alongside one of the newspaper articles or other print pieces to evaluate the ways in which the explosion is presented in different media.
What else could the Library do to help you use informational text in your classroom?