Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Oral Language, Reading, and Writing Using an Informational Text [Grades 2–3]

By Laureen S, First-Grade Teacher, Guest Blogger

In my last blog, I introduced you to a new series of paired texts available at Hameray titled Inspire! .  The series includes 40 informational texts about 20 trailblazers of both the past and present. Each of the 20 biographies is paired with a text that contains a theme related to the biography. In that post, I shared ideas for reading and writing using the biography of Helen Keller , a person I have been fascinated with since my childhood for her ability to overcome significant personal challenges .   The Driving Force is the perfect informational text to pair with Helen Keller . In this post, I will share oral language, reading and writing ideas teachers can easily incorporate into their classrooms using this text.

Oral Language

Oral language can easily take a backseat to other curriculum outcomes in our classrooms. Making it both a priority and purposeful ensures that we value it and incorporate it into our lesson planning. The Driving Force provides an oral language opportunity before the book is even opened. Ask your students: “Tell me about this photo. What are the people doing? What do you think the book will be about? Do you think this book will be fiction or non-fiction?”. The book naturally leads to discussions. I would ask students why did doctors and family members believe that it was impossible for people with disabilities to play sports? Discussions about empathy may emerge. Allow students the time to talk and reflect. Knowing the value of speaking and listening, don’t forget to record your observations of student engagement. During reporting periods you will be glad you did!

Reading and Writing to Learn

Many students from early to proficient readers are drawn to informational text. The Driving Force is a level O text and is perfect for students who are ready to read for learning. During reading students should be making connections, inferring, visualizing, determining what is important and asking themselves questions about the text. One of the main themes in this book is the challenges that each of the athletes overcomes. At this point, the pairing between the two books becomes very evident. I would use Helen Keller as an example and do a shared writing activity which includes a brief snapshot of her life (when she was born, where she lived), the challenges she faced and the accomplishments she made during her life. In conclusion, I would write about what I learned from her.

To get students engaged with the text I have created a writing activity available here as a free download!

This easy to assemble guided reading booklet will get students interacting with text and rereading to draw conclusions about what they have learned from their athlete. The writing booklet could be used with any of the athletes in the book or any other person who has overcome a challenge in their life. The choice is yours! Hameray offers these paired texts in a guided reading set , which combined with the writing booklet would help you with your guided reading lesson planning! I can see this being equally as a valuable whole class as a read-aloud.

The Driving Force is not just about athletes. It discusses a variety of sports and important people who were pioneers in getting athletes facing disabilities involved in sports. Discussions and writing could also happen around these topics. For older students, I might leave them (or even you) with a question that I’ve often pondered. Do you think the Paralympics should be held after the Olympics as they currently are or at the same time? Personally I wonder how the athletes feel with less television coverage, having to participate at a different time (often following the closing ceremonies) and with many people have already returned home. This would be a great oral debate or persuasive writing topic.

I hope you get a chance to check out this brand new series of paired informational texts. The biographies included are sure to capture the attention of students. They have included people such as Michael Jordan , George Lucas , and  Frida Kahlo  and are a great way to expose students to informational text features. Be sure to check back soon to learn more about the engaging books offered at Hameray.



Laureen is a first-grade teacher in Canada. She has been teaching kindergarten and grade one for more than twenty years.  Laureen loves to make learning fun and you can find her at her blog,   Teach With Laughter . You can also visit her TPT page here