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Lesson Plans and Other Resources on Content-Rich Nonfiction and Informational Texts

View these additional resources on nonfiction and informational texts.

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children

Lesson Plans

Our Community: Creating ABC Books as Assessment (Gr. K-2)
Students create alphabet books, which are used as an integrated assessment with science, health, social studies, and any other content area. This lesson plans looks at the theme of community.

Creating Question and Answer Books through Guided Research (Gr. K-2)
This series of activities is designed to teach research strategies. Students use KWL charts to guide their inquiry and publish their results in a collaborative question and answer book.

Teaching Language Skills Using the Phone Book (Gr. 3-5)
Through a series of activities using the phone book, students learn to use text aids, collect information relevant to a topic, organize information, synthesize information and use key words.

Research Building Blocks: Skim, Scan, and Scroll (Gr. 3-5)
In this lesson from a research skills unit, students read informational text, looking for supporting details. They practice skimming and scanning print resources, and scrolling through electronic resources.

STAR Search: How Do I Find the Book I Need? (Gr. 3-5)
Students become familiar with STAR Search, which provides a set of steps and thinking processes for intermediate students to use in finding library resources relevant to a specific information need.

Biographies: Creating Timelines of a Life (Gr. 3-5)
In this lesson students explore a number of sources to create a biographical timeline about a selected person. Students collaboratively research and resolve conflicting information they find during their investigation.

Glogging About Natural Disasters (Gr. 5-8)
After researching various natural disasters, students share their findings with each other using glogs, or through poster presentations.

Not Your Usual History Lesson: Writing Historical Markers (Gr. 6-8)
Students will develop their summarizing skills while learning about local history. They will learn to consider audience while selecting topics, conducting research and interviews, and writing historical markers for their town.

Campaigning for Fair Use: Public Service Announcements on Copyright Awareness (Gr. 6-8)
Students explore a range of resources on fair use and copyright then design their own audio public service announcements (PSAs), to be broadcast over the school’s public address system.

Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt: Researching Nutrition to Advertise for Health (Gr. 6-8)
After researching nutrition and analyzing food advertisements, students work in cooperative groups to create their own advertisements for food products.

Vote for Me! Making Presidential Commercials Using Avatars (Gr. 6-12)
After researching political platforms of past presidents through primary sources and other resources, students create commercials for these presidents using Voki, an online web tool that produces speaking avatars.

Comparing Portrayals of Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Photography and Literature (Gr. 6-12)
In this lesson, students analyze similarities and differences among depictions of slavery in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Frederick Douglass’ Narrative, and nineteenth century photographs of slaves. Students formulate their analysis of the role of art and fiction, as they attempt to reliably reflect social ills, in a final essay.

Poetry Reading and Interpretation Through Extensive Modeling (Gr. 9-12)
Students will research, read, clarify, analyze, and interpret John Berryman’s poetry and create a sustained evaluation of a given poem in a three- to four-page essay.

Having My Say: A Multigenre Autobiography Project
(Gr. 9-12)
Students compose a multigenre paper, modeled after the Delany sister's autobiography, Having Our Say, that includes the autobiographical narrative essay as well as an informational nonfiction piece.

So What Do You Think? Writing a Review (Gr. 9-12)
Writing a review of an author’s work challenges students to develop their critical thinking skills. It provides an opportunity for students to speak their minds—and to enjoy being heard

Exploring Language and Identity: Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” and Beyond (Gr. 9-12)
Students explore the idea of "different Englishes" by reading Amy Tan's "Mother Tongue" and writing literacy narratives about their own use of different language for different audiences and purposes.

Chasing the Dream: Researching the Meaning of the American Dream
(Gr. 9-12)
By conducting interviews, sharing and assessing data, and writing papers based on their authentic research, students reach their own conclusions on the meaning of the American Dream.

Writing Technical Instructions (Gr. 9-12)
Students walk through the process of creating technical instructions by analyzing existing instructions, choosing an audience, writing their own instructions, receiving user feedback, and then revising and publishing their instructions.

Analyzing Famous Speeches as Arguments (Gr. 9-12)
Students are often asked to perform speeches, but rarely do we require students to analyze speeches as carefully as we study works of literature. In this unit, students are required to identify the rhetorical strategies in a famous speech and the specific purpose for each chosen device. They will write an essay about its effectiveness and why it is still famous after all these years.

Family Memoir: Getting Acquainted With Generations Before Us (Gr. 9-12)
Creating a memoir of an older family member allows students both to learn more about their own backgrounds and to learn the power of storytellers.

Using Student-Centered Comprehension Strategies with Elie Wiesel’s Night (Gr. 9-12)
Working in small groups, students read and discuss Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night and then take turns assuming the “teacher” role, as the class works with four different comprehension strategies.

Exploring Audience and Purpose with a Single Issue (Gr. 9-12)
Students explore the concepts of audience and purpose by focusing on an issue that divided Americans in 1925, the debate of evolution versus creationism raised by the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Beyond “What I Did on Vacation”: Exploring the Genre of Travel Writing (Gr. 9-12)
After reading and analyzing short examples of travel writing and discussing conventions of the genre, students write their own travel articles.

Persuading an Audience: Writing Effective Letters to the Editor (Gr. 9-12)
Students use persuasive writing and an understanding of the characteristics of letters to the editor to compose effective letters to the editor on topics of interest to them. 

Connecting Past and Present: A Local Research Project (Gr. 9-12)
In this unit, students become active archivists, gathering photos, artifacts, and stories for a museum exhibit that highlights one decade in their school’s history.

Brochures: Writing for Audience and Purpose (Gr. 9-12)
Students create brochures on the same topic as another piece of writing they have done, highlighting how shifting purposes and audiences creates changes in their strategies as writers.

Professional Writing in Action! Publishing Student Reviews Online (Gr. 11-12)
Writing professional reviews teaches students to understand audience, content, and publication guidelines. In this lesson, students put these into practice as professional writers critiquing, designing, and publishing reviews on

Strategy Guides

Promoting Student-Directed Inquiry with the I-Search Paper (Gr. 8-12)
The sense of curiosity behind research writing gets lost in some school-based assignments. This Strategy Guide provides the foundation for cultivating interest and authority through I-Search writing, including publishing online.

Introducing Ideas and Vocabulary with the Concept Sort (Gr. K-8)
A Concept Sort is a vocabulary and comprehension strategy used with students to introduce new topics and/or familiarize students with new vocabulary.

Making Connections (Gr. 3-8)
In this strategy guide, you’ll learn to model how students can make three different kinds of connections (text-to-text, text-to-self, text-to-world). Students then use this knowledge to find their own personal connections to a text.

Inquiry Charts (I-Charts) (Gr. 3-12)
This guide introduces I-Charts, a strategy that enables students to generate meaningful questions about a topic and organize their writing.

Using the Jigsaw Cooperative Learning Technique (Gr. 3-8)
In this strategy guide, you will learn how to organize students and texts to allow for learning that meets the diverse needs of students but keeps student groups flexible.

Introducing New Content with Seed Discussions (Gr. 5-12)
In this strategy guide, you’ll learn how to elicit ideas and conversation about new concepts or content by effectively holding a Seed Discussion in your classroom.

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