As I work to support so many folks out there trying to align their resources to the Core Standards, I realize that even if the instruction is stellar, well-planned and super extraordinary, if one thing is off, there’s going to be trouble.

What’s that one thing?

The type of text that you’re teaching.

Did you know that once kids get to the high school level they should be reading between 75-80% informational text in school. That means that the English teachers even need to teach informational text!!  Yowza!  This is a shift for all of us who teach K-12! The gist of the whole thing is this: kids need to be practicing daily with more informational text than they ever have before. Why? Because it’s the text of the workplace and college – – and whether you’re going to one or the other, you’ve got to have SKILLS to be able to break down that text, make sense of it and actually DO something!

So, for us teacher-types, we’ve got to ensure one thing happens right away: that our students are using informational text daily, along with the narrative text that is very common in the K-12 English/Language Arts classroom.

Before we dive into creating lessons for informational text, we need to get organized on what kinds of text we’re currently using and where the gaps are.  Trust me, there are gaps between what we are currently using text-wise and what we should be using.  That’s why I created this simple check-sheet for you. (Did I mention that it’s FREE?  I love FREE stuff that I can use right away and I bet you do, too!)

Here’s what I want you to do:

  1. Click here to download and print this Types of Text  resource.
  2. Take the Types of Text Checklist to your next team or planning meeting.
  3. Read the definition for Informational Text, Literature or Narrative Text and Non-Fiction Text – there is probably some new learning in there for everyone!
  4. Take 30-45 minutes as a team to write down the text you would typically use (or used last year) each week.  Document EVERYTHING!
  5. Put the title of the piece(s) your students would read in the appropriate boxes.
  6. In the final box (“Form of Text”), I’d like for you to write down…well, the form of the text!  (Yes, it IS rocket science!)
  7. Now total the types of text boxes.
  8. Check your totals against these numbers:
    1. In 4th grade you should be at a 50% Informational Text/50% Literature Spread.
    2. In 8th grade you should be at a 45% Informational/50% Literature Spread.
    3. In 11th grade you should be at about an 80% Informational/20% Literature Spread.
    4. In your final column “form of text” you just want to make sure that you’re varying the forms that you’re using and teaching to/from.  For example, if everything you’re using is a textbook, then you need to adjust your teaching to include other forms of informational text like brochures, essays, articles and recipes.
  9. Discuss and plan for where you are out of whack (a very technical term) and where you need to align.
  10. Do the alignment.

Here’s the real deal: I want to make sure that you aren’t just going out and changing your teaching in an effort to align your work with the Common Core – WHAT you’re teaching (the text) is the OTHER part of that alignment…and I don’t want you to miss that!