Note-taking is a worthy skill that needs to be developed and practiced.
4. Give your child ample practice time
to write a similar piece independently; he may need to produce several
writing samples in order to fully
comprehend the unique elements
of the chosen genre and prove his
understanding of their application.
“An across-the-board journal is a vehicle for informal writing in which the
student processes and connects information, language, and problem-solving
skills from one class to another.”
are some nonfiction writing ideas created to guide your child as he endeavors
to comprehend new, complex reading
Example 1: Note-Taking
Sometimes we forget that being able to
take concise notes is writing. Due to easy
access to the Internet’s informational
highways, plagiarism is rampant. Note-taking is a worthy skill that needs to be
developed and practiced. Learning how
to write in a succinct manner will not
only improve one’s own writing but will
also prepare a child for taking notes during future lectures in college.
1. Words should be in fragment form;
no sentences allowed.
2. Include only the important, main
words (usually nouns).
3. Use synonyms wherever possible.
4. Leave out insignificant words (
usually prepositions, articles, conjunctions).
5. Use of abbreviations, symbols, and
one’s own shorthand is ideal.
Example 2: Newspaper Article
During silent reading, my children will
often read God’s World. However, if you
are anything like me, you probably often
wonder if they understood the information. Here is another way to check their
comprehension and improve learning
through writing: Using their journals,
draw a very large question mark. Divide
the question mark into the following
sections: Who, What, When, Where,
Why, and How. Implementing the above
note-taking rules, have your children
bullet their responses to the above questions. This will require them to analyze
the article at a deeper level as they identify the important facts.
My favorite graphic organizer site is
Freeology.com/graphicorgs. There, one
can find many types of visual organizers that children can use with nonfiction reading.
Example 3: Summaries
Once students have mastered the skills
of note-taking, locating the main ideas,
and rephrasing language into their own
words, students are ready to learn how
to write summaries. Initially, summary
writing is really a two-step process. After
the student has read the specified article
several times, have him bullet the main
ideas in chronological order, still keeping
in mind that the material should be paraphrased in the writer’s words.
Next, instruct the child to write the ac-
tual summary, using the bulleted list as a
guide. One way to improve fluency is to
keep a transition list next to the student
while he writes. Words such as next, fi-
nally, in addition, and therefore can help
the language used in the summaries to
flow and become aesthetically pleasing to
the ear. A great link that offers a variety
of transitions is writing.wisc.edu/Hand
Example 4: Definition Predictions
As students read text in content areas,
they may encounter a lot of technical
language that may or may not be defined
by using context clues, i.e., the words surrounding the unfamiliar word. Students
who learn to target confusing words and
attempt to define or make a prediction of
what the word is will, without a doubt,
Provide students with a reading assignment. Next, allow them to first
skim the selected piece of reading, pulling out boldfaced/italicized or confusing vocabulary. Within their journals,
have the students write the following
headings (see below sample) and complete the first two sections. Finally, read
the selected piece again thoroughly to
comprehend the actual meaning of the
word. Use of a dictionary is strongly
encouraged to verify the accurate, precise definition.
and need to