Gimme 5: Sources for Expository Texts

Thursday, October 22, 2015
explained by Suzanne

With the changes to state assessments in Texas, even more focus is placed on expository. (Feeling lost?  The state decreased the length of the tests and cut 4th and 7th grade writing tests to 1 day with 1 essay- the expository.)

I like the way that Lori framed what we should do now: "Our task has not changed. However, it is important that we help students to read expository texts with a writer's eye."

One difficulty that comes with this charge is having access to engaging, short expository texts that students can read and work with in one class period.  Let's face it- the textbook and released passages are only so interesting!

Here are 5 great sites that provide texts and, in many cases, resources: (I ranked them in ease and frequency of use.*)
*This study is scientific in that the only subject was me. :)

This site is managed by the Smithsonian and provides access to current event articles.  Here why you'll love it: You can change the Lexile for the article!  I know- it's awesome!  This can provide all students with access to the same content on a reading level that is most appropriate for them.  You could also use it for a slamma-jamma lesson on diction.  How did the author change their vocabulary to cater to a different audience?  What is the best word for the job in this sentence and why?

Kelly Gallagher's Article of the Week
If you've read this blog for any length of time, you knew this was coming.  We've blogged about the wonders of the AoW and how we utilized it here.

Text Exemplars from Common Core
I'm from Texas, the land of the TEKS, but good literature is good literature.  The Common Core put together this appendix of teeny tiny texts for K-12.  All genres are present: literary, expository, and poetry.  It is a perfect place to look when you need a text that can fit on one page.
I wonder why snails leave a slime trail.  I wonder why we swing our arms when we walk.  Okay, well I don't really lie awake pondering these things, but someone does.  Wonderopolis tackles a different wondering each day.  You can also search their chronicles for something specific.  Texts are well written and include great vocabulary.  Most wonderings include a quick video to activate prior knowledge or provide a visual of the topic.  

This one I recommend only because we're friends and I know that I can trust you.  ReadWorks provides a ton of lessons and reading passages. It is easy to sort by grade level, genres, and skill focus.  You do have to sign up, but it's free.  So here's my trepidation- this site would be so easy to misuse.  If you know someone who is the Mayor of Packet City, please don't pass tip along.  You however have a trillion ways to use the text and questions in an engaging, practice without penalty kind of way.  Need a reminder?  Check our our Relevant Review series.  

Hope this gives your writer's eye lots of good stuff to look at!

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