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Content Area Literacy: Nonfiction Books in the K-3 Classroom/Flex Course


Why do excellent readers often struggle when they are exposed to nonfiction books and text? This online course focuses specifically on content area nonfiction in the primary grades. Students tend to approach content text the same way they approach literature. Students need to learn how to read content material. This course provides practical strategies teachers can use for integrating nonfiction, informational books into the K-3 classroom as a valuable supplement to classroom textbooks. With a focus on how to teach expository reading skills, the course also covers comprehension, text structure, and strategic reading instruction. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"I enjoyed this course. I found it interesting and helpful as content learning is exactly what we begin in the second grade. I will find myself using many of the suggestions in the upcoming year." - Joyce Bourdon


Enrollment Options

Register] Course Registration Only $149

Register]Course Plus Credit from UC San Diego Extension Only $379


Required Resource Book: This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

A Place for Wonder: Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades” by Georgia Heard and Jennifer MacDonough

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List


Topical Outline / Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

PDI Course Number: 95T02

UCSD Course Number: EDUC41491

Unit One

  • Introduction to Content Area Literacy
  • Introduction to Common Core Reading Standards for Nonfiction Literature
  • How to Differentiate Content Area Reading
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography
  • Test #1

Unit Two

  • Narrative v. Expository Text
  • The Benefits of Using Nonfiction Literature
  • Text Structure
  • Assignment #2: Article reflection
  • Test #2

Unit Three

  • Expository Text on the Internet
  • Strategic Reading Instruction
  • Teaching Comprehension Skills
  • Assignment #3: Share your expertise
  • Test #3




Unit Four

  • Nonfiction Literature in the Science Curriculum
  • Nonfiction Literature in the Social Studies Curriculum
  • Nonfiction Literature in the Math Curriculum
  • Test #4

Unit Five

  • Teaching Nonfiction/Expository Writing
  • English Language Learners and Nonfiction Literature
  • How to Choose the Best Nonfiction Literature
  • Test #5

Unit Six

  • Developing Thematic Units Using Nonfiction Literature
  • Nonfiction Literature for Teaching Health and Fine Arts
  • Resources for Finding Nonfiction Literature
  • Assignment #4: Write a content area lesson plan using at least two nonfiction books
  • Assignment #5: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)