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Comparing Characteristics of Literary and Informational Texts

Lesson Plan

Comparing Characteristics of Literary and Informational Texts

Objectives

In this lesson, students compare characteristics of literary text and informational text and find examples of both in literary nonfiction text. Students will:

  • identify characteristics of literary text and informational text.
  • compare and contrast a literary and an informational text about the same topic.
  • identify literary and informational characteristics in a literary nonfiction text.

Essential Questions

How do strategic readers create meaning from informational and literary text?
How does interaction with text provoke thinking and response?
What is this text really about?
  • How do strategic readers create meaning from informational and literary text?
  • What is this text really about?
  • How does interaction with text provoke thinking and response?

Vocabulary

  • Literary (Fiction) Text: A story about people, animals, or events that is made up by an author.
  • Characters: The people or animals in a story.
  • Setting: The time and place, or when and where, a story happens.
  • Plot: The sequence of events in a story, including a problem and a solution.
  • Characteristics: Features or qualities that help identify something.
  • Informational (Nonfiction) Text: A book that gives information or facts about real people, things, or events.
  • Text Features: Any visual clues on a page of text that offer additional information to guide the reader’s understanding.
  • Captions: Words or sentences that give information about a photograph.
  • Table of Contents: A list of chapter titles and the page numbers on which they begin. A table of contents is located at the beginning of a book.
  • Glossary: List of words in a book and their meanings.
  • Bold Print: Heavy, dark print.
  • Italics: Slanted print.
  • Literary Nonfiction: Books that have characteristics of both literary and informational books. They use some literary characteristics to tell factual information.

Duration

30–90 minutes/1–3 class periods

Prerequisite Skills

Prerequisite Skills haven't been entered into the lesson plan.

Materials

  • a variety of informational texts that include several text features (titles, table of contents, bold or italic print, captions, labels, bullets, glossary, index, maps, charts)
  • a variety of literary texts at students’ independent reading levels
  • Caterpillar to Butterfly by Laura Marsh. National Geographic Children’s Books, 2012.
  • Buddy Butterfly and His Cousin by Melissa Blackwell Burke. Steck-Vaughn Company, 2001.
  • Becoming Butterflies by Anne Rockwell. Walker and Company, 2002. These books were chosen because they are examples of literary, informational, and literary nonfiction texts about the same topic. Alternative literary nonfiction texts include the following:
  • Emperor’s Egg by Martin Jenkins. Candlewick, 2002.
  • Atlantic by G. Brian Karas. Puffin, 2004.
  • A Good Day’s Fishing by James Prosek. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004.
  • George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Stephen Hawkings. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009.
  • Teachers may substitute other books to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.

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  • a variety of informational texts that include several text features (titles, table of contents, bold or italic print, captions, labels, bullets, glossary, index, maps, charts)
  • a variety of literary texts at students’ independent reading levels
  • Caterpillar to Butterfly by Laura Marsh. National Geographic Children’s Books, 2012.
  • Buddy Butterfly and His Cousin by Melissa Blackwell Burke. Steck-Vaughn Company, 2001.
  • Becoming Butterflies by Anne Rockwell. Walker and Company, 2002. These books were chosen because they are examples of literary, informational, and literary nonfiction texts about the same topic. Alternative literary nonfiction texts include the following:
  • Emperor’s Egg by Martin Jenkins. Candlewick, 2002.
  • Atlantic by G. Brian Karas. Puffin, 2004.
  • A Good Day’s Fishing by James Prosek. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004.
  • George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Stephen Hawkings. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009.
  • Teachers may substitute other books to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.

Formative Assessment

  • View

    During the lesson, emphasize the importance of identifying characteristics of literary texts and informational texts and understanding how the author uses the characteristics to help the reader remember the story or to pay attention to information in the text.

    • Confer with students to determine if they understand and can explain the characteristics of literary texts and informational texts. Informally assess whether students are able to identify the characteristics of both text types and explain how the author uses the characteristics.
    • Use the following checklist to evaluate each student’s understanding:
      • Student correctly identifies characteristics of literary texts as reviewed in this lesson.
      • Student correctly identifies characteristics of informational texts as reviewed in this lesson.
      • Student can explain how literary and informational texts are similar and different.

Suggested Instructional Supports

  • View
    Scaffolding, Active Engagement, Modeling, Explicit Instruction
    W: Have students demonstrate understanding of the characteristics of literary and informational texts by identifying examples within texts. 
    H: Engage students with a game that involves identifying characteristics of literary and informational texts and explaining why an author would use them. 
    E: Have students compare and contrast the most important points in a literary text and an informational text about the same topic. 
    R: Have students collaborate with peers to reinforce understanding of the characteristics of literary text and informational text. 
    E: Provide adequate opportunities for students to identify the characteristics of both literary and informational books, and ensure that students understand the characteristics so they can identify them in literary nonfiction text. 
    T: Provide additional modeling, whole-group instruction, and small-group practice to help students compare the characteristics of literary texts and informational texts. 
    O: Students will review a variety of literary texts and informational texts, identify characteristics that indicate the genre, and discover how literary nonfiction books include characteristics of both genres. 

Instructional Procedures

  • View

    Focus Question: How does knowing the characteristics of literary and informational texts help me better understand what I read?

    Arrange the class in two teams with members of the teams competing one-on-one. Explain that you will name a characteristic of either literary texts or informational texts. Teams will take turns. A member from the first team must say which text type the characteristic belongs to and tell how that characteristic helps the reader. If the member can fulfill those two objectives, his/her team gets two points. If the member misses one or both answers, a member of the other team gets a chance to answer correctly and earn a point for each correct answer.

    Spend a few minutes playing the game to remind students of the characteristics of literary and informational texts and the purpose of each characteristic.

    Part 1

    Display the T-chart used in Lessons 1 and 2 (L-2-3_T-Chart and KEY.doc).

    Have students compare the characteristics of literary text and informational text. Ask, “How are literary and informational texts different?” (They have different purposes. They have different characteristics.) “Can you think of any ways in which literary and informational texts are alike?” (They can be about the same topic. They can both have illustrations.)

    Model for students how to compare a literary text and an informational text about the same topic. Hold up Caterpillar to Butterfly and Buddy Butterfly and His Cousin.

    Ask, “By looking at the covers, which book do you think is informational and which is literary?” (Caterpillar to Butterfly is informational and Buddy Butterfly and His Cousin is literary.) Have students discuss their ideas with a partner and then explain why they think so.

    Say, “I am going to read each book to you. While I read, find characteristics that indicate whether the book is literary text or informational text. You can refer to the T-chart to help you.”

    Read Caterpillar to Butterfly to the class. After reading, have students share their thoughts about the genre of the book and the evidence that supports their decision. After discussing their ideas with a partner, have them share with the class. (e.g., It provides information. It does not tell a story. It has a table of contents. It has pictures and captions.)

    Read Buddy Butterfly and His Cousin to the class. After reading, have students share their thoughts about the genre of the book and the evidence that supports their decision. Have them discuss their ideas with a partner and then share with the class. (e.g., It has characters. There is a problem in the story. There is a sequence of events.)

    Create a Venn diagram on the board or overhead to demonstrate the similarities and differences that students identified in the discussions about the texts. You might also ask and answer questions about each text. For example, ask, “Does this book have characters?” “Are the characters animals/insects that talk?” “Does this book provide facts?” “Is there a setting?” Have students find evidence in the texts to support their answers.

    Part 2

    Briefly review the Venn diagram and ask students to identify differences between the literary text and informational text (purposes and characteristics) and similarities between the books (topic and some features). Next, assign students to small groups. Provide each group with at least two literary texts and two informational texts at students’ independent reading levels. Give each group sticky notes and pencils.

    Say, “For each text, you are going to do three things:

    • First, look through or read the books (depending on length) and decide whether they are literary texts or informational texts.
    • Then, on the sticky notes, write L (for literary) or I (for informational). Put a sticky note on the cover of each book. 
    • Finally, list two or three characteristics that support your choice.”

    When groups have completed at least four books, have them share their results with the class. Encourage each student to share a book and the information on the sticky note. Have the class give feedback. Observe to make sure that students understand the differences in the purpose and characteristics of the two types of texts.

    Next, guide students in a discussion of what literary texts and informational texts have in common. Suggested answers include the following:

    • Both texts might provide information.
    • Both texts could be about the same topic.
    • Both texts have an author.
    • Both texts might have the same features, such as pictures or bold print.

    Part 3

    Say, “Some literary texts have characteristics of informational texts.” Demonstrate by showing examples such as the following: a literary chapter book that has a table of contents or a literary text that has words in bold print or italics.

    Say, “Some informational texts have characteristics of literary texts.” Demonstrate by showing an example of an informational text that has cartoon characters.

    Ask, “Why do you think the author of an informational text might use characteristics of literary texts?” (to make the book interesting or easier to understand) “Why might the author of a literary text use characteristics of informational texts?” (to call the reader’s attention to important words or information)

    Write the term literary nonfiction on the board or interactive whiteboard. Say, “Literary, or fiction, books are stories that are made up by an author. Informational, or nonfiction, books give facts. Turn to a partner and discuss what you think literary nonfiction books are.”

    Have several students share their answers. Lead students to understand that literary nonfiction books have characteristics of both literary and informational books. They use some literary characteristics to tell factual information.

    Hold up the book Becoming Butterflies. Say, “I am going to read you this literary nonfiction book about butterflies. As I read, notice the literary characteristics and the informational characteristics.”

    You may choose to have students identify characteristics as you read or wait until you have completed the book. Ask questions such as who, what, when, where, why, and how to determine the characteristics of literary nonfiction. Document answers on a chart. Suggested answers include the following:

    • Literary characteristics of Becoming Butterflies: has characters, setting, and sequence of events
    • Informational characteristics of Becoming Butterflies: gives facts, has pictures with labels to support the text, explains the life cycle of butterflies, includes a map

    Ask, “How does knowing the characteristics of literary and informational texts help you better understand this book?” (I can tell which parts are real and which parts are made up. I can use the sequence of events to retell the story or to explain the life cycle of butterflies.)

    Extension:

    • Students who need additional opportunities for learning should examine a literary text and an informational text in the classroom library. On a sticky note, students should write L (for literary) or I for (informational) and list characteristics from the book that support their choice. If needed, create a T-chart checklist for students to complete as they review the books. (e.g., Does this book have fictional characters? Does this book have a table of contents? Does this book tell a story? Does this book give facts?) Tell students to display the sticky note on the front of the book and display their books on a table or on their desks. Have students do a gallery walk to review one another’s work and provide feedback.
    • Have students who are ready to move beyond the standard work in small groups to review a literary nonfiction text at students’ reading level. Note that magazines such as National Geographic Kids and Zoobooks often have literary nonfiction articles. Have students read the book or article and work together to identify literary characteristics and informational characteristics. Have them make a chart to list the characteristics and use sticky notes to mark examples in the book. Provide time for groups to share their work with the class.

Related Instructional Videos

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Final 4/11/14
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