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GED Lesson Idea: Reading Nonfiction


This lesson describes methods you can teach your student to help read and understand nonfiction reading, based on their structure. Inspired by Nonfiction Matters by Stephanie Harvey, Stenhouse Publishers, 1998 and The Reading Teacherís Book of Lists by Fry, Kress, and Fountoukidis, 1993.

  • Nonfiction selections; such as a textbook on a topic of interest, or a sample reading from a GED practice book.
  • Student handout: Structural Clues
  • Teach your student to skim, or survey, the text before reading it, noting the title, summary, headings, any diagrams and charts and their captions. Discuss what these clues tell about the subject matter of the piece. Here is a summary of this technique.
  • Using a variety of readings and the structural clues handout, help your student identify the common ways of presenting nonfiction information: cause and effect, question and answer, compare and contrast, and time order.
  • Use diagrams or flow charts to help students comprehend the relationships among the information as presented in the reading. Sometimes called graphic organizers, such diagrams serve as a visual outline of the piece. More examples of how to use graphic organizers.
  • Teach other signal words that indicate illustrative material (for example), emphasis (a major factor), concluding remarks (in summary), a qualifying remark (reputed, probably), etc.
  • Note the usefulness of illustrations and photographs as an aid to comprehension.
  • Make sure your student knows how to understand the graphic material such as charts, cutaways, maps, graphs and tables. Book 5 in the Number Power series has many practice activities for developing this skill.
  • Be sure your student understands how to use the textís index, preface, table of contents, glossary and appendix.
  • Be sure to discuss with your student any new vocabulary or new ideas found in the reading. Reading the piece aloud will help to pinpoint these.
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