Here are some things we have been thinking about that may help you:
The first graders looked through their nonfiction library baskets and sorted books into narrow topics. Then, they looked for other fiction texts and poems to add to the piles. Soon, they had over 15 text sets! Here is one example, "Monkeys and Apes":
Next, the teachers invited students to choose the text set they wanted to read. Kids give choose a few options and teachers gave students a new reading partner based on interest. Note: Not all of the books in each text set match the level of both of the readers, but most of the books in the text set baggies did represent the range of readers in the room (levels G-K). For this unit, the teachers decided that the partners and the books will be at mixed levels AND after 15 minutes of text set reading time, kids will then read from their just right book baggies for another 15-20 minutes.
Here is the chart that reminds the readers of the text sets available and the partnerships assigned to each set. Kids read from the same text set for 4-5 days. Then they will switch to another set.
Next, the teachers wanted to have a way for kids to keep track of information they learn and questions they have while reading. They decided to use RAN charts. Tony Stead recommends these charts as way to help students read and analyze nonfiction reading. See his book, Reality Checks, for more information. Here is the example from Breanne's class. She is reading the monkey and ape books aloud and modeling for her students how to use a RAN chart to keep track of their thinking.
Each partnership has one of these charts in their text set baggie to help keep track of the thinking.
As I listen to first graders read in a cross-genre unit like this, I often hear kids saying things like the following example (after reading a Poppleton story about the main character trying to wall paper his home), "Hey, Popleton's friend Filmore just ate the wallpaper! Do goat really eat wallpaper? Do they eat other things? Do they eat people?"
These questions then fuel future reading about goats. This reader can now turn to some nonfiction text about goats to get his questions answered and learn some new information.
Finally, I wanted to share with you some of the other charts the teachers are using to help the students use nonfiction reading skills to help answer their questions.