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Lesson Plan

Research Building Blocks: Skim, Scan, and Scroll

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Research Building Blocks: Skim, Scan, and Scroll

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Instruction & Activities

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • use a variety of sources (e.g., media center, classroom resources, available technology) to locate information.

  • use text aids (e.g., table of contents, glossary, captions, chapter headings, index) to locate information.

  • use text structure (e.g., sequential order, chronological order, problem/solution) to determine most important information.

  • apply appropriate reading strategies to fiction and nonfiction texts within and across content areas.

  • use key words to identify relevant information. Discriminate between relevant and irrelevant information, and make generalizations based on relevant information from expository text.

  • distinguish between main ideas and supporting details.

  • organize and synthesize information.

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Instruction & Activities


  1. Create a question that would arise from the unit your students are studying. Then, using the class text, model how to find a supporting detail in a paragraph that answers your question. Follow this by having the students generate a question of their own.

  2. Begin to "find" the answer by turning through all the pages in the book.

  3. Students will probably protest, telling you that there are better ways to find the answer. Generate a list of their responses.

  4. Talk about the skill of skimming, using the definition provided in the Preparation section.

  5. Seek the answer again, this time skimming to find it.

  6. Have the students complete Activity #1.

  7. Follow up the activity by having the students generate a short list of questions they have on a topic the class is studying.

  8. Discuss the skill of scanning, using the definition provided in the Preparation section.

  9. Model the scanning process while finding a few of the answers to their questions.

  10. Then have the students complete Activity #2.

  11. After skimming and scanning print sources, the students are ready to look at electronic sources. With an LCD projector, show an example of an online source. Discuss what characteristics of the site make it easy or difficult to read. Point out things such as headers, colored print, links, etc. A good site to try would be an online encyclopedia such as Encyclopedia.com.

  12. Have the students scroll through an entry, skimming and scanning for information that ties into what they've been studying in their print texts.

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As this is only one step in teaching the research process, students need not be graded on the activity. However, peer review of their filled out Activity Form #1 and Activity Form #2 would provide helpful feedback for the students as they practice their skimming and scanning skills. Teacher observation could best assess how well the students differentiated between main topics and supporting ideas.

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