Many state standards require students to study informational texts as part of their English language arts curriculum. But reading and analyzing informational texts can sometimes be challenging, especially for students who are more accustomed to reading literature in their ELA classes.

To keep things interesting for both you and your students, try blending these five engaging activities into your informational text lesson plans.

Choosing Pull Quotes

Articles in magazines and on the internet often highlight two or three choice quotations and display them in a different way from the rest of the article. These quotations are called "pull quotes," and they're used to entice the reader. Pull quotes typically highlight an article’s main ideas or call attention to a particularly powerful quotation.

For this activity, you'll need enough copies of a news article for your whole class. If the article already contains pull quotes, you'll need to redact them in some way.

Have students read the article and choose two or three quotations to feature as pull quotes. Once they have chosen their quotes, lead a discussion in which you and your students talk about the quotes they chose and why they chose them.

Determining Text Structure

We've written about informational text structures in this space before, and we think it's important that your students develop the ability to identify these text structures and their distinguishing features.

After giving your students copies of an informational text, instruct them to determine which of the five informational text structures it most closely resembles. Ask your students to identify key words and phrases within the text that led them to their decision.

Examining Charts and Graphs

Charts and graphs are often key parts of informational texts. What better way for students to examine them than to make their own?

One way to approach this activity is to give students a set of data points and ask them to construct an appropriate chart or graph using those data points. If you use this approach, you'll probably want to show your students examples of charts and graphs so they have a good starting point from which to work.

Another method is to ask students to read a text that presents several data points throughout but doesn't use any charts or graphs. Students would have to extract the data from what they read and then construct a graph based on that.

If your students have less experience with charts and graphs, you may instead want to go over the components of various types of charts and graphs before having students construct their own.

Separating Fact from Opinion

In this activity, your students will examine simple statements and determine whether they're fact or opinion.

Find an informational text and identify a few quotations from it. Then, type up these quotations in a Word or Google document and print enough copies for all of your students. Leave enough space between quotations for students to write a couple of sentences in the blank space.

Instruct students to read each quotation and write either "fact" or "opinion" after each. Ask students to identify key words or phrases from each quotation that helped them make their judgments.

Identifying the Author's Intent and/or Purpose

Sometimes authors obscure their message—think of satirical texts like Jonathan Swift's “A Modest Proposal.” A proper reading of that text can be reached only if you identify its subtext. Agreeing with what “A Modest Proposal” suggests represents a critical misunderstanding of the piece, as well as the author's intent.

In some informational texts, the author's intent is clear. Newspaper stories, for example, simply deliver information. That isn't to say that a journalist can't reveal bias through word choices; every text has at least a little internal bias. But for the most part, news stories are devoid of commentary—they tell you what happened, not what to think about it.

For this activity, find a newspaper article, op-ed column, political speech, or other nonfiction text that does more than report facts. Distribute this text to your students and ask them to come up with several reasons the author may have written the text. Ask your students to identify words and phrases that support the reasons they listed.

What other exciting activities would you recommend using when teaching informational texts?