Tips to Engage Students with Informational Text

For many students, fictional text is what brought about a love of reading.  Who doesn’t love a great story with relatable characters and an unexpected plot twist?! As students get older though, they begin “reading to learn.”  This means that most text and classroom reading practice shifts from fictional to informational.  Reading informational text does not have to be boring though! I have included some tips below to help students engage with informational text that doesn’t leave them whining and scratching their eyes out.

Engaging students with informational text

1. Student Choice. Of course there are times in the classroom where students just have to read what they are assigned, but whenever possible, give students a choice. This allows students to take ownership of learning in a way that coincides with their likes and interests. If you are wanting students to learn about different cultures for example, then allow students to choose the country of study.

2. Inquiry-based learning. Let’s face it, reading passages and answering comprehension questions gets old fast. Sure there is a place for it, but why not turn informational reading into an opportunity for inquiry-based learning? Inquiry-based learning is a student-centered approach where a question, problem, or scenario is presented. Natural curiosity drives students to discover the answer. Students learn by investigating the question, scenario, and problem. Inquiry-based learning doesn’t have to be complicated or involve some great classroom mystery to be solved (Although how much fun would that be?!). It can simply be presenting the assignment in a different manner. Check out the two examples below.

In this inquiry-based activity, students have $6000 to plan a family trip to the Grand Canyon. Students have to research costs of airfare, car rental, hotel, food, park entrance fees, etc. They must work to stay in budget while planning all the necessities and vacation extras. Students then present their vacation plan in a creative way.
In this activity, students research various brain disorders for the purpose of educating others with an informative brochure.

3. Connect with the text. Informational text is often so content-rich that it is difficult for students to grasp all that is presented. Students get overwhelmed at the amount of content and lose interest soon after. This is why repeated readings of text are so beneficial. Before reading a text, it is beneficial for students to take notice of text features like headings, bold print, text organization, and pictures. Allow students to just read the text. During second and third readings, students can engage with the text by using graphic organizers. I love graphic organizers for creating an easy, visual format of information. Here are some of my favorite types of graphic organizers below.

Foldables are a great way to organize information. This vocabulary foldable is perfect for learning content vocabulary.
Coloring notes have become my new favorite graphic organizer. Students connect visual images with text into one beautiful and useful poster! Many of my informational text products have coloring notes if you are looking for some!
Writing graphic organizers are a great way for students to organize and plan out writing pieces. This graphic organizer helps students take facts from informational text and write a summary.

4. Make something. Projects provide opportunities for information to become meaningful. Students must take responsibility for their own learning and practice real world skills when working on projects. The best project ideas involve student choice, multiple intelligences, real-world connections, and an opportunity for all students to learn/ experience success in their own way. I like to do this by incorporating Project Choice Boards at the end of a unit. I have included a few examples below.

I hope these tips give you some ideas to use the next time you need to make your informational reading more exciting. All pages above are part of my informational reading units. Click the link to find out more about each one.

Happy reading!