Teaching Nonfiction Texts

At NCTE, I participated in a session about teaching nonfiction texts. My job was to encourage participants to share how they teach social commentary. Before participants shared, several noteworthy speakers (i.e., Robert Probst, Elizabeth Marshall, and Sherman Blau) shared thoughts and ideas. Here are some I caught:

1. “Nonfiction is literature.”

2. “Students might engage with texts that spark argument.”

3. “Our task is to teach students to deal with the language in nonfiction. What is its meaning?”

4. “Challenge students to ask what are the lies within the truth of nonfiction?”

5. “There are 3 misconceptions about teaching literature:

1. Literary texts do not have determinable fixed meanings;

2. Literary texts are narratives and reading them only require knowing narrative structure;

3. Reading literature is merely pleasurable and will not help students learn to read things that might actually help them.”

6. “Literary texts are no more unstable than other texts.”

7. “Prisons and dirty books have done a better job of teaching reading than reading teachers have.” OUCH!

What do you think? Do you agree with any of these statements? Do you disagree with any?