EL Support Lesson

Finding Area: What Information Do I Need?

You need the length and the width to find the area of a rectangle or square, but what if one piece of information is missing? Use this lesson alongside *What's My Area?* or on its own.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the What's My Area?Lesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the What's My Area?Lesson plan.

Students will be able to solve for the area of a rectangle or square.


Students will be able to explain how to find the area of rectangles and squares using transition words and sentence starters.

(3 minutes)
Find the Area of a Rectangle: EasyTeach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives ReferenceArea Information Gap CardsVocabulary Cards: Finding AreaGlossary: Finding Area
  • Pose a real-world problem with information gaps and have students Think-Pair-Share about what other information they need in order to solve it. (e.g., I have a birthday party to plan, and I want to make sure each kid gets two treats. The party starts at 4 p.m. How many treats do I need to make?)
  • Instruct students to think about their plan for how to solve it or what additional information they need to solve the problem. Then, have them turn and talk to a partner about their thoughts. Invite the group to share out.
  • Inform learners that you provided a problem, but you did not share all of the information. If you shared how many kids were coming to the party, you'd be able to find the answer.
(8 minutes)
  • Explain that the example problem in the Introduction included a GapIn Information. Provide student-friendly definitions of each of these words by presenting the Vocabulary Cards.
  • Share that today's lesson will be about explaining how to find the area of rectangles and squares, but first, students will have to find out what information is missing from their problem.
  • Distribute a Glossary to each student, and go over each of the key terms while showing the Vocabulary Cards. Explain that AreaIs the amount of space inside a shape. In order to find the area, you must know the Length, which is the measurement of how long something is. You also need to know the Width, which is the measurement of how wide something is. To find the area, you must multiply the length and width together.
  • Display a copy of the Finding Area: Level 1 worksheet and focus on one rectangle at a time. Label the length and width on each rectangle, and model using the formula (L x W = A) to find the area of each shape. Share that the longer side is usually the length.
  • Follow the same process for a few more rectangles on the worksheet, and engage students in matching the measurement with the vocabulary term and solving to find the area. Provide sentence stems to support students as they explain:
    • The length/width is ____.
    • To find the area, I need to ____.
  • Draw a rectangle on the board and only write the length on one side. Think aloud about what you are missing and what you need to find out in order to find the area. (e.g., I have the length for this rectangle, but I am missing the width. Since I know that I have to multiply the length times the width in order to get the area, I need some more information. I need to find out the width.)
  • Draw another rectangle on the board and only write the width on one side. Ask students to turn and talk to a partner about which information is missing from the picture. Display a sentence frame to support students as they converse such as "I think the ____Is missing because ____."
(10 minutes)
  • Tell the class that you have a fun activity that students will participate in today with problems that are missing some important information, but first, they need to know how the activity works.
  • Explain that they will be put into A-B partnerships for the Information Gap Cards activity. Display the following steps on an anchor chart for students to reference during the activity:
    • Read, then think aloud: Partner A reads the card silently and thinks aloud about what information is needed. Partner B reads the data card silently.
    • Question 1: Partner B asks, "What specific information do you need?" Partner A asks Partner B for specific information.
    • Question 2: When Partner A asks, Partner B should ask, "Why do you need that information?" before sharing the information with Partner A.
    • Explanations: Partner A explains how the information will be used to solve the problem. Partner B helps and asks for explanations, even if they understand what Partner A is doing.
  • Model the process of the Information Gap Cards activity, and engage the class in collectively being Partner B while you demonstrate how to be Partner A.
    • Display the Example 1 card for Partner A from the Area Information Gap Cards worksheet. Point out that the card has Partner A, a shape with a measurement, and a question on it.
    • Display the Example 1 card for Partner B from the worksheet. Explain that this will be the card that Partner B has, and it has the missing information that Partner A needs.
    • Instruct the class to say, "What specific information do you need?" in unison.
    • Say, "I have a rectangle here, and I know the length is 6 units. The question is asking me to find the area, but I don't know the width. If I'm going to find the area of the rectangle, I need both the length and the width. Do you have the width?"
    • Instruct the class to say, "Why do you need that information?"
    • Say, "I need the width because it is an important part of finding the area. I need to multiply the length by the width, so I need both measurements."
    • Instruct the class to say, "The width is 4 units" in unison.
    • Say, "Thank you! Now that I have the width, I am going to draw this rectangle on my whiteboard with both measurements. The length is 6 and the width is 4, so 6 x 4Is my expression. 24 square units is my answer."
  • Explain that while Partner A is solving the problem aloud, Partner B can chime in to help and also ask questions.
(10 minutes)
  • Put students into A-B partnerships and give each student a card from the Area Information Gap Cards worksheet. Remind them that Partner A has the rectangle, a measurement, and the question on it, while Partner B has the data that would complete Partner A's card.
  • Have students begin the Information Gap activity, and remind them not to write on the cards because they will be used again. Circulate to offer support and provide feedback. Be sure to notice the language that students use, and remind them to reference the process chart (anchor chart or written on the board) as they go through each step of the activity.
  • Collect the cards and give each partnership a new set of cards. Have the partners swap roles, so that Partner B now has the opportunity to explain.
  • Gather students' attention and call on a partnership to explain how they solved for the area of their rectangle. Ask peers to share whether they agree or disagree with the answer. Provide the following sentence stems/frames to support students' explanations: "The area of this rectangle is ____Square units because ____" and "I agree/disagree because ____."


  • Allow access to reference materials in home language (L1).
  • Have students include the vocabulary word in their L1 on the Glossary.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary to the teacher.
  • Provide a word bank of key terms and phrases for students to use in group and class discussions.
  • Group students intentionally based on academic and language needs.
  • Include labels and partially completed index cards for students in the Assessment portion of the lesson.


  • Allow learners to utilize glossaries and dictionaries for unfamiliar words.
  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary, summarizing important information for the class.
(7 minutes)
  • Give each student two blank index cards and instruct them to write their own similar problem card and data card for other pairs to use. Note that students can refer to the problem card/data card they used in the previous sections for support.
(2 minutes)
  • Display one student example from the Assessment portion of the lesson, and discuss as a class.
  • Ask students to do a quick Think-Pair-Share about why it is important to understand how to find the area and when someone might use this skill in their job.
  • Remind students that the length and width are both necessary components in finding the area of a rectangle using multiplication. This will give you a measurement of the space inside of a shape.

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