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Lesson Plan

Integrating Literacy Into the Study of the Earth's Surface

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Seven 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Catherine Crum

Daufuskie Island, South Carolina


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Sessions 1–5: Read-aloud of Science Trade Books

Session 6: Comparative Study Using Readers Theatre

Session 7: Readers Theatre Performances


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Gain knowledge of the different bodies of water on the Earth's surface by listening to science trade books read aloud and reading these books independently during DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time

  • Develop new vocabulary by choosing and discussing content area words from the trade books to include on a word wall

  • Construct their understanding and ideas about a scientific topic by participating in whole-class and small-group discussions

  • Engage in meaningful discourse about a scientific topic by writing in a dialogue journal about their observations, reflections, and theories and then sharing and discussing their journal entries with classmates

  • Interpret what they have learned about the bodies of water on the Earth's surface by writing and performing a Readers Theatre

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Sessions 1–5: Read-aloud of Science Trade Books

1. Gather students as a whole class to listen and observe while you read the book Pond by Gordon Morrison.

Before reading, ask students what they already know about a pond. What is a pond? Have they ever seen a pond? Where are ponds usually located? What lives in a pond?

2. After reading, have students generate a list of words found in the book that describe the features of a pond. Students will add these words to the word wall under the heading "Pond" (see Preparation, Step 3).

3. Lead a class discussion as to why these words were chosen by the author to describe a pond. Then, together with students, reread the book, stopping at each word on the word wall and having students discuss why the author chose that word. Students lead this discussion by comparing the words to the factual information they have learned about a pond.

4. Have each student write an entry in his or her science journal detailing the features of a pond. Students should write about their observations, drawing upon the vocabulary the author uses in the book read aloud. Encourage students to also include firsthand observations if they have ever seen a pond. Where was the pond located? What did they see there? What kinds of creatures did they see inhabiting the pond? What were the conditions of the water? Students will share their journal writing with their groups each day.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 in each session using a science trade book about a different body of water for the read-aloud (see Preparation, Step 1). Depending on the topic of the book, students will continue to generate a list of words for each of the headings on the word wall (i.e., streams, rivers, lakes, oceans). Lead a class discussion about the words, and have students write entries about the topics in their science journals.

Note: Vary the introduction to each body of water by comparing the previous body of water taught to the next in a review context, by asking questions so as

  • What did we learn about ponds?

  • What were the features used to characterize a pond?

  • What types of creatures live in or near a pond?

  • What do you think will be different in a stream?

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Session 6: Comparative Study Using Readers Theatre

1. Write the names of the different bodies of water (i.e., ponds, streams, rivers, lakes, oceans) on index cards and mix them up in a fish bowl.

2. Divide the class into teams of four or five members each (see Preparation, 5).

3. Have each team choose a team leader who will select one of the index cards from the fish bowl.

4. Explain to students that as a team they should review the trade book read in class (in Sessions 1-5), the word wall, and their science journal entries for the body of water they selected. If students are skilled at researching on the Web, you may also direct them to the sites listed in Websites as an option for gathering new information about their selected body of water.

5. They should then create a Readers Theatre script describing the features of their selected topic without revealing its name (see Preparation, Step 6).

6. Explain the Readers Theatre Rubric, which will be used to assess each performance. Discuss with students each criterion on the rubric and the expectations to be met for each rating.

7. Encourage teams to practice performing their Readers Theatre in preparation for Session 7.

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Session 7: Readers Theatre Performances

1. Invite each team to perform their Readers Theatre script for the class.

2. After the performance, ask the class to guess which body of water was being presented.

3. Lead the class in a culminating discussion of each performance and a review of each body of water on the Earth's surface and its criteria for classification.

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Gather a collection of nonfiction texts about this topic and other related topics (see the books listed in Materials and Technology) to keep in your classroom library. These books can be used during DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time or for informal reading.

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  • Assessment can be done informally through anecdotal notes and observations during each of the sessions. Use the initial class discussions in Sessions 1–5 about the different bodies of water and compare them with the discussions students have at the end of Session 7. Are they able to use the new vocabulary in the culminating discussion and express their understanding of the features of the different bodies of water?

  • Evaluate the students' science journal entries for details and accuracy about the features of each body of water.

  • Use the Readers Theatre Rubric to evaluate each group's script and performance. Students will be graded individually and as a group.


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