Whole-Class Reading Instruction: Content-Area Reading and Storia

Tips for using Storia to incorporate informational texts into your content-area lessons

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

As students build reading fluency, they begin to move from learning to read to reading to learn. This means an emphasis on nonfiction reading and content-area texts. Also the focus on Common Core Learning Standards means more emphasis on reading informational texts, with an integration of reading skill instruction in the content classes.

The Benefits of Storia for Content-Area Reading

Storia is an ideal vehicle for incorporating informational texts into your content-area lessons. The variety of informational e-books available in Storia means that you can find many books on content-area topics that are at an appropriate reading level for your students. And enrichment activities, such as video clips, allow students to go beyond the text by learning additional information and gaining additional background on the topic. 

Teacher Chat
“When reading nonfiction books to my students, I always felt that something was lost since my students couldn’t fully see the diagrams, charts, and other helpful text features. With Storia, my students feel more involved reading science and social studies books.”

Tips for Content-Area Reading With Storia

  • Organize a subset of your Storia bookshelves by content area or unit topics. After a book is shared with the class, students can find the book on the Storia bookshelf that corresponds with the unit. (After you have established personal student bookshelves, use your remaining Storia shelves for this instructional purpose.)
  • Highlight passages. You do not need to use an entire book during a content-area lesson. Sometimes a few pages may make your point better than the complete book would.
  • Use Storia e-books to model note-taking and research skills. Students can practice note-taking using the Storia notes feature.
  • Align your Storia bookshelves with your content-area curriculum by creating shelves organized around subject areas (Civil War, rocks and minerals, biomes) or themes and issues (change, family, human rights). You may only have a few content-area bookshelves to work with, so choose your most important topics first.
  • Use fiction to teach content-area information. Include fiction books in your content-area bookshelves. For example, historical fiction is an obvious fit for social studies units while concept books can teach math skills. Various fictional content can be used for thematic units on justice, family, community, and so on. 
  • Use your Storia e-book collection to supplement your content-area texts, because Storia nonfiction books:
    • ​Familiarize students with the types of books they will use for research and independent reading
    • Offer more context than even print books and will be more engaging for students
    • Allow you to delve deeper into topics beyond the scope of your textbook
    • Build background for students and help them obtain a content-area vocabulary
    • Can provide text at a lower reading level for striving readers. Students can find just-right nonfiction texts by browsing Storia’s large nonfiction library.

Downloadable e-reading resources: The Compare and Contrast Venn Diagram (PDF), KWL Chart for E-Books (PDF), Main Idea and Supporting Details (PDF), Concept Map Graphic Organizer (PDF), and The 5 W’s and How (PDF) graphic organizers are all excellent formats for expanding students’ content-area reading strategies.

Teacher Chat
“After I choose an e-book to use for a content-area lesson, I project the book’s glossary on my whiteboard whenever my students are working independently on the unit. The glossary creates a temporary word wall for my students.”

Tips for Teaching Specific Subjects With Storia

Storia for Science

  • Highlight science words. Choose an e-book with science concept words. Highlight the words you want to focus on during the lesson. Ask students to be on the lookout for these “golden words” while you read the book aloud.
  • “Read” photos. Focus on the detailed photos and illustrations in the science e-books you share. They help clarify abstract ideas.
  • Share nonfiction science e-books to teach students to distinguish between fact and opinion. Use the material in these books, as well as the notes feature, to teach students to identify facts. Older students should be taught to question the sources and accuracy of these facts.
  • Study biographies. Expose your students to the biographies of people who have made contributions in science, technology, and engineering. Use Storia tools to record the information.
  • Study science through art. To lead a discussion about art and science or to study science concepts, project Storia on a whiteboard or other screen and explore the illustrations and photos in children’s literature. 

Storia for Social Studies

  • Use historical fiction e-books to create a meaningful context to introduce a history unit. Historical fiction books with the read-to-me feature help all students build their background knowledge and mental models. The books also develop “historical empathy” in students when you introduce a new topic.
  • Model sequence of events. Read aloud a historical e-book, noting the timelines and chronology of events as you read. Or have students create annotated timelines to track the sequence of events as you read.
  • Use the “sketch to stretch” visualizing strategy to help bring social studies content to life for your students. Project a passage from a historical fiction or nonfiction e-book and ask your students to draw the scene the passage describes.
  • Identify narrative and informational texts. Help students identify and employ different reading strategies for narrative and informational texts. For example, when reading informational texts, students will need to use text structures such as captions, glossaries, and visual aides. Point this out as you read shared e-books
  • Teach the importance of evaluating sources by using targeted text passages projected on a screen during content-area lessons. Older students can begin to consider bias in topical texts, and younger students can simply focus on the question “Who wrote this book and why?” You can use the Storia notes tool to reinforce your message.

Storia for Math

  • Read picture books with students of all ages to introduce new math concepts. Seeing a math topic introduced in this way will help students feel more able to face new learning challenges.
  • Project a page from a math fiction or math concept book and do a “stop and jot” activity. Ask students to stop and jot all of their thoughts about the page. Use your students' notes as a starting point for writing, to review vocabulary, or as material to apply higher level thinking skills as your students analyze the page.
  • Connect fiction to the content areas. Many fiction books can be used to teach math concepts. In one first grade class, as the teacher read the e-book First-Grade Friends: The Sleep Over, each of the students used mini demo clocks to show what time they thought it might be in the story.

Using Storia Enrichment Activities to Teach Content

Many of the nonfiction enriched e-books include activities that are subject or content specific. These enrichments can be used as a whole-class content lesson. You can assign students to reread an e-book with enriched activities that they can use to review content independently.

Sample Content-Based Enrichments

  • Building background: The videos at the end of enriched content-area books are a wonderful resource for stimulating class discussions, building students’ background knowledge in the content areas, supporting ELL students who need more visual support during a content lesson, and providing material for additional research on a content topic.
  • Sequencing: Many e-books include enrichment activities that ask students to fill in the sequence of events. This activity can help reinforce life cycles, the chronology of historical events, and the importance of keeping a “mental timeline” while reading narrative nonfiction.
  • Reinforcing math skills: In math e-books, many of the multiple choice and "touch the page" enrichments reinforce math skills that are at an appropriate level for the book. This is an easy way to combine math and literacy!

  • Part of Collection:
  • Subjects:
    Teacher Tips and Strategies, Teacher Training and Continuing Education, Teaching with Technology