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High School — Reading
Reading Applications: Informational, Technical and Persuasive Text

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    Reading Applications: Informational, Technical and Persuasive Text

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      Activities: Help with Fundamentals

      These activities can help you address the fundamentals of Reading Applications: Informational, Technical and Persuasive Text with your students.

      Order of Importance

      To prepare students to identify organizational patterns such as sequence, ask them to look at manuals used for playing games, building models or using recipes. They should note the most important steps and the visual enhancements as well as the specific chronology of steps.

      Ask students to write an essay about the process in order of importance instead of in chronological order. They will need to explain to their reader how the various steps in the process fit together without relying on a linear description. A reader should be able to use the essay to follow directions and complete the task at hand just as successfully as if he or she were using the manual.

      Analyzing Word Choice

      Ask your students to do a close reading of an informational, technical, or persuasive text. Instruct the class to look at the words, sentences, and kinds of language that the author uses, and have them consider the following questions:

      • Word Choice: Are the words easy to understand or do students find themselves reaching for the classroom dictionaries?
      • Syntax: Look first at the sentences the author writes and define them. Are they long and descriptive, or short and to the point?
      • Use of language: Does the author use many kinds of figurative language, such as similes, metaphors, and idioms?

      After students have answered questions about the pattern of word order in the author's sentences and the kind of vocabulary and language the author uses, ask them to define the author's style. Is the writer descriptive, figurative, literal, concise, humorous, etc.? Make a list of the descriptive words your students use to describe the author under study. Refer to this list as you compare and contrast authors' styles. How does this approach support the author's intended purpose?

      The Fine Print

      When reading advertisements, informational brochures and instruction guides at face value, people often miss the important information in the fine print. For example, car dealers often advertise exceptional deals. However, when one reads the fine print, it becomes apparent that the deal is on a specific car rather than the whole fleet. Ask students to analyze how the visual components and layout of the text affects the reader's initial understanding of the information.

      Ask students to collect multiple examples of "fine print." Have them analyze the language of the fine print and determine what restrictions, exceptions or exclusions are being described. Have them create a new advertisement, brochure or instruction guide that incorporates the fine print as part of the overall message rather than as an afterthought. Students should explain how they used images or text layout to draw attention to certain aspects of the information.

      The Art of Persuasion

      Introduce discussion as a prewriting exercise. Ask students to share their initial opinions about the subject. After the class has discussed both sides of the topic, pair up students who have opposing views. Ask these partner groups to look together at research materials you have provided for them. As they read and jot down ideas for or against the chosen topic, students can discuss their ideas with one another, gathering insight on the opposing view. Require students to use the class discussion, paired readings, and partner talks to answer the following questions:

      • What information can I use from class discussion, reading, and personal experience to argue for or against this topic?
      • What perspective did my partner offer in opposition to my opinion? How can I counter this argument in my writing?

      Suggest that students use their answers to these questions as the starting place for crafting their persuasive piece.

      Extra! Extra!

      News is presented in many different media -- students can read the newspaper, look at a news Web site, listen to the radio, or watch television. Have students select a newspaper article that is interesting to them. Ask them to research the same story in other media, such as online or on the TV news. Then have students discuss or write about the differences they encountered from one form of media to another. What are the differences in the treatment, scope and organization of each text? Did a color photo on the Internet or live images on television change the way the students thought about the information? Did any elements of the story change across contexts? If so, how and why?

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