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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: Additional Instruction and Practice

      These activities may be useful for students who require additional instruction and practice with Reading Applications: Informational, Technical and Persuasive Text.

      Scrapbook Biographies

      Biographers must research important dates, events, places, people, and ideas connected to the individuals they portray in their writing. These key facts of an individual's life are usually reported in an informational text, a work of narrative nonfiction.

      In a variation on this form, have students select a person, living or historical, who interests them. Ask them to construct a biography composed of many texts--a collage of various types of nonfiction to present the person's life. Students should include the following types of information:

      • Important dates on a timeline;
      • Relevant places on a map;
      • Letters or journals, written by the student, but supported by factual research;
      • Quotations that reflect personal opinions about the featured individual;
      • A fictional scripted conversation between the subject of the biography and another person who was significant in the subject's life, also written by the student, but supported by research;
      • A review of the person's work, written by the student, who will back up her opinions with information gathered from nonfiction sources.

      These creative expressions allow students to gather essential facts of a person's life and present them using various organizational approaches. Creating a scrapbook biography encourages writers to imagine different types of nonfiction texts as vehicles for expressing factual information.

      Candidate Clarification

      Being objective means not being influenced by emotions or beliefs. It also means basing what you say on documented information, not on rumors or opinions. When politicians run negative campaign ads about their opposing candidate's voting record or personal life, however, they are hoping to sway voters by manipulating their emotions. It may help your students to understand objective writing by having them compare objective nonfiction to subjective, opinion-based nonfiction.

      Ask students to find a particularly negative campaign advertisement on the television or radio or printed in the newspaper or on a campaign flyer. Have them list the damaging opinions detailed about the candidate. Then have them research the candidate to verify or disprove the charges against them. Students will need to select sources that have little bias, such as newspapers, rather than relying on campaign Web sites, that portray a "rosy picture." For an added challenge, have students rewrite the original ad, clarifying the accusations.

      Happy Trails

      Being able to glean and use information from graphic sources such as maps and schedules is a critical skill. In this activity, students will plan a tour to a city of their choice.

      Have students select a city they are interested in learning more about and possibly visiting some day. The city can be anywhere in the world, should be in a state or country they have never visited, and have a public transportation system. Once students have selected their cities, they can plan their trips. To design their journeys, students will need to consult a variety of informational texts such as official city Web sites, materials from the city's Chamber of Commerce or Bureau of Tourism, maps of the city, train or bus schedules on public transportation Web sites, travel guides, travel agent brochures, and travel magazines.

      Each excursion must last five to seven days, including a three-day sightseeing itinerary. Students will need to determine how and when they will travel to and from the city. For example, if a student chooses to fly, she will need to refer to flight schedules to pick appropriate flights. Each three-day sightseeing itinerary should include the mode of transportation, arrival and departure times, as well as the following:

      • A cultural event, such as a Broadway show in New York;
      • A commercial center, such as Bond Street in London;
      • An ethnic center, such as Chinatown in San Francisco;
      • A natural attraction, such as Lake Michigan in Chicago;
      • A day trip to a nearby attraction, such as the hill towns outside of Florence, Italy.

      Buses, subways, trains or other means of public transportation should be used whenever possible. To determine appropriate transportation, students will need to refer to a map of the city and bus, subway, or train route maps.

      Have students construct a detailed map of the city, including the location of the airport, important landmarks, major streets, and public transportation routes. Sightseeing destinations should be clearly labeled on the map as well. Ask students to produce a multipage tour brochure that contains necessary itineraries, descriptions of sightseeing destinations, public transportation schedules, and the detailed map. The brochure should be comprehensive enough that anyone could use it to travel to and around the selected city.

      Literary Editorials and Opinions

      With each text you explore in class, allow students the opportunity to write an article or commentary that expresses an opinion or viewpoint. Give students a chance to vent about reading The Canterbury Tales in Middle English. Perhaps you have some readers who want to express their enjoyment of Huxley's Brave New World. Require students to use factual information (or extended research on the text) to support their opinions. For example, if a student wants to express the opinion that reading Chaucer is irrelevant, he might research educators' writings and findings on the importance (or irrelevancy) of this text in the high-school curriculum. A Huxley fan might cite some statistics on how our current society is "brainwashed" by product placement and constant media exposure, as Huxley predicted. Post or publish these literary op-eds in the classroom or on a class Web site, discussing the techniques each student used to represent her viewpoint.

      Responsible Reporting

      Readers explore interests by reading about topics that stir their passions. Each of these texts is written by individuals who know something about the subject at hand. Their knowledge comes from their experience and their own study of the topic.

      Ask your students to consider an area in which they are well-versed. Ask them to imagine that they are given the task of writing a nonfiction book on this subject.

      Explain to your authors that in order to prepare for their book they are going to expand their knowledge of the subject. Though they will not actually write the nonfiction text, your students will create an annotated bibliography for this imaginary book, exploring various treatments of the topic, from fiction to news articles. By locating various sources, your students will expand their knowledge of their passion and familiarize themselves with the wealth of information available to them as researchers. In addition, they will be exposed to various treatments and organizational structures authors use to present information.

      Schedule time for students to explore the library and to search the Internet for relevant sources. Once students have gathered books, articles, and Web sites on their subject, model for them the format of an annotated bibliography. You might even provide a handout for them to complete, including guidelines for locating all of the required publication information and a space for them to summarize the text's relevant content. Explain that they are pulling together possible sources to report on their topic, and that an annotated bibliography helps them to organize their sources responsibly.

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