Lesson plan

Be a Nonfiction Detective!

Take the mystery out of comprehending nonfiction by becoming a text feature detective! Find clues before reading to get your brain ready to learn!
Need extra help for EL students? Try theUnknown WordsPre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try theUnknown WordsPre-lesson.

Students will use various strategies to understand nonfiction text.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(10 minutes)
Hunt for Nonfiction Text FeaturesPreviewing Using Text Features
  • Gather students at the rug and tell them that today you would like to read them a nonfiction book. Quickly review what nonfiction is. Tell students that even though someone can read all the words in a book it doesn’t mean they will understand everything they read. That why it’s important to get your brain ready to read by looking for clues. This is called previewing.
  • Tell students that today they will be nonfiction detectives and, luckily, nonfiction books have some special features where readers can look for clues. List them on the board: Title, Table of Contents, Visuals, Headings.
(10 minutes)

Show students the book you have chosen to read to them. Model looking for clues before reading, e.g.:

  • The title gives me a clue that this book is going to be about ____.
  • In the table of contents, I notice that ____.
  • Wow! The pictures show me that ____.
  • I think that this part is going to tell me about ____Because the heading says ____.
(5 minutes)
  • Fill out the projected version of the previewing worksheet with students. Show them how to make quick notes rather than writing out full sentences.
(20 minutes)
  • Send students off with their choice of nonfiction book, a partner, and a worksheet. Before they begin to read they should preview the book with their partner and fill out the worksheet. Then they should read together.
  • Challenge students to record three key facts on the back of their worksheet that they located easily by referring to the text features.

Everyone should choose books at their own independent reading level.

(5 minutes)
  • Ask a couple partnerships to share out the key facts they located in the text. Encourage students to refer to the text to support their ideas.
  • Have students do a think-pair-share with a partner, finishing the sentence frames aloud:
    • The title gave me a clue that this book was going to be about ____.
    • In the table of contents, I noticed that ____.
    • The picture on page ____Helped me understand ____.
    • I predicted ____Based on ____My prediction was ____Because ____.
(5 minutes)
  • Choose a few students to finish the following sentence frame aloud:
    • One of the text features I used was ____. This text feature helped me understand ____Because ____.

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