Nonfiction Made Easy! 5 Tips for Hitting the Standards

Nonfiction Made Easy 5 Tips for Hitting the Standards

Upper elementary nonfiction standards naturally scaffold with the intent to take students from recognition of nonfiction features and the author’s craft and structure to the analysis of how those features play a role in the text’s main idea. 

Each grade level has ten skills that students should become proficient in by the end of the year. By working on these skills, students prepare for a world where most of the texts they’ll read will be in a similar expository format. 

Of course, our fiction units are oh so important, but if you’re on the quest to make teaching nonfiction units easy, you’re in the right place! 

Start from the Beginning 

Many of us begin the year teaching routines, procedures, how our classroom will run, and a long laundry list of expectations. 

This process naturally lends its hand to our fiction units as they fit nicely within this timeframe. However, it may be beneficial to introduce the very basics of nonfiction at the beginning of the year too! 

In the midst of completing reading surveys and exploring the library, ensuring that your avid nonfiction readers have a place to turn to is vital! 

Learn the Standards 

This one makes everyone groan. I know, this is boring, the standards change, the numbers are hard to keep straight, etc. 

Well, if you’re like me and memorizing the standards and their corresponding numbers is not your thing, I have something for you. 

Keep reading! 

Get a Planner (and Use It!) 

I created a digital planner to help you refer to the standards easily and help you keep track of what you’ve taught, which students have shown proficiency, and which resources you can use to help students become successful! 

To grab yours, click the link below to download this Google Sheet for your grade level. 

3rd Grade Nonfiction Planner FREE

3rd Grade Nonfiction Planner 


4th Grade Nonfiction Planner FREE

4th Grade Nonfiction Planner 


5th Grade Nonfiction Planner

Keep Track of Student Data 

Keeping track of where each student is with the standards makes communicating with parents a breeze. It also allows you to determine your whole group and small group instruction without a headache. 

If you know that Student 4, Student 9, and Student 17 have not yet shown proficiency in text structures, it’s easy to glance through your data, create a group, and pull a resource to ensure that these three students receive the support and instruction that they need to be successful. 

Within the planner (linked above), there’s a tab that allows you to track student proficiency by standard with an easy color-coded checkbox system. 

Come parent-teacher conference time, it’s easy to peek at each students’ data and communicate with parents. 

I’ve found that this system also comes in handy during data meetings with your team, school staff, and principal. 

Prep Your Teaching Materials Ahead of Time 

Take a look at where the gaps are in your reading curriculum. Are you missing the necessary resources to teach paired texts, cause & effect, text structures, etc.? 

If so, note what teaching materials you have and which you need to have a successful nonfiction unit. 

You can use the tab titled “Nonfiction Unit Notes” in the planner to keep notes! 

BONUS: Find Materials That WORK! 

Within the planner, you’ll find that each nonfiction skill comes with links to paired resources specifically designed to align with the standards. Some are even freebies! 

You can find these resources under the tab “Suggested Resources” within your planner! 

You can also check out these comprehensive bundles below! 

Digital Reading Bundle 3rd Nonfiction

Digital Reading Unit Nonfiction Bundle for 4th Grade
5th Grade Nonfiction Digital Reading Bundle


Read More About Nonfiction Instruction:

Teaching Nonfiction Text Features

Using a Scavenger Hunt to Teach Informational Text Structures

Making Inferences Using Informational Text

The Teacher Next Door - Creating upper elementary resources that target standards for busy teachers


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The Teacher Next Door - Creating upper elementary resources that target standards for busy teachers

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