School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 4

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 2.0 Comprehension of Informational Text

Indicator 1. Develop comprehension skills by reading a variety of self-selected and assigned print and non-print informational texts, including electronic media

Objective a. Read, use, and identify the characteristics of nonfiction materials such as textbooks, appropriate reference materials, personal narratives, diaries, and journals, biographies, newspapers, letters, articles, web sites and other online materials, other appropriate content-specific texts to gain information and content knowledge


Through a concept attainment activity, students will review the differences between fiction and nonfiction text. The teacher will sort several books into a fiction group and into a nonfiction group. Following the teacher's modeling, students will be asked to sort remaining texts. When this activity is complete, teacher and students will discuss how the two groups were categorized. After the discussion, the teacher will focus student attention solely on nonfiction texts and with student help will list characteristics of some of the representative nonfiction texts. Next each student will work with a partner and read an assigned or a portion of an assigned nonfiction text. Each set of partners will list three pieces of information they have gathered from their reading.


Prior to this procedure, the teacher will create stations in the classroom. At each station, the teacher will place a particular type of informational text and a poster or newsprint sheet where student comments can be recorded. Students should be placed in pairs or in small groups. Each student pair or group should be supplied with a different colored marker. Using a carousel method each student group should visit each station where they will review the representative informational material. After their review each group should record a comment about the text's organization, features, or content and one comment about the possible use of the text. Once the rotation is complete, the teacher will gather the comment sheets and review the collective information with the entire class.


Prior to the activity the teacher will create mixed sets of notecards which display the names of a variety of primary and secondary sources of information. Each student, pair of students, or small group of students will be given a set of notecards. Through instruction the teacher will assist students in categorizing the cards into primary and secondary sources and discussing possible uses for each source. Next the teacher will randomly distribute a series of primary and secondary sources to each learning group. Using the information from instruction, students will determine the particular source through its characteristics. Once identifications are complete, each learning group will report out justifying their identification with the source's characteristics. Extension: This same type of activity may be conducted with an online source like SIRS. After the initial instruction, students could be given several types of primary and /or secondary sources to find online. First, they would locate the source, review it to check its characteristics, and then determine a use for its content.


The teacher should collect a variety of sources about a single topic. For example, one could begin with a biography about Benjamin Franklin, a selection from his autobiography, a journal entry that he wrote, a newspaper article which mentions Franklin, a letter penned by Franklin, a text book excerpt about him etc…On the board or overhead the teacher should identify the different types of sources students will be accessing. Place students in small groups and give each group a packet of the aforementioned materials. Students should identify the type of material, list the characteristics of the material that led them to this identification, and detail the type of information one receives from that type of source.

Title of SourceType of SourceCharacteristicsInformation Type


Before this activity is conducted, the teacher will organize two identical sets of primary and secondary source materials. Next the teacher will divide the class into two teams for a game of Line of Approval and assign one student as scorekeeper and one student as document keeper. The document keeper spreads both identical sets of sources on a flat surface and then turns his/her back to the documents. Next, the teacher will place a single document (they may be different) in a folder for each group and announce that the team is to decide whether the enclosed document is a primary source. For each round the teacher selects the source type. At a signal from the teacher the document keeper passes the document folder to the first person on each team. Without speaking the first person on each team reviews the document and nods approval or shakes his/her head in disapproval to the document type stated by the teacher. During this process no one may speak until all members of the team have reviewed the document and indicated their choice. Finally the last person returns the document folder to the teacher and states the type of document. The team who first correctly makes identification is awarded those game points. A brief discussion about the features of these documents should conclude each round.

Resources for Objective 2.A.1.a:
LESSON SEEDS | Sample Assessments |