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Lesson Plan

Traveling Terrain: Comprehending Nonfiction Text on the Web

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 30-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Sheila K. Seitz

Alexandria, Virginia


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Identify text features within a webpage format (contents in form of menu, hyperlinks which serve as headings, graphics and illustrations, italics and bold print)

  • Search for specific information within nonfiction text

  • Generalize information to related topics

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Session 1

Introduce the Missouri Botanical Gardens/Evergreen Project website. Explain how this website is similar to text features in nonfiction texts. These text features include clues to help the reader understand the information that is presented. Students then complete the Text Features chart as you describe each feature. Space is provided for additional features if desired.

Define keywords that appear on the chart, such as:

  • Hyperlink—mouse control turns into a hand when rolled over the link, then the user can click and move to another page.

  • Menu—words or phrases that appear in a list format

The completed chart below explains the text features to be discussed.

Text feature Website format Purpose-How does it help me read and understand the information?

Table of contents Menu with hyperlinks (Sometimes marked with a home icon that looks like a house. If I see this, I can click on it and return to the menu anytime during my reading.) This provides me with a list of information included in the text.
Headings Headings (no difference) I can read a brief phrase that tells me what information I will find in the paragraph below it.
Bold or italicized words Bold or italicized words (sometimes these are hyperlinks) These are important terms that I must be able to define so I can understand the information.

Graphics/illustrations Graphics/illustrations (sometimes hyperlinks that explain more or enlarge picture) A picture, graph, or chart that provides me more information OR arranges the information in a visual format so I might understand it better.

Pages Navigation buttons (often look like arrows) In a book I must turn between pages to organize the information; on a webpage I click on buttons to determine how I view the information.

You can complete this chart as a whole-class activity or provide some information on the chart and allow students to identify features in a guided practice format.

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Session 2

Students can work independently or in pairs to complete the Scavenger Hunt handout. The focus of the activity is for students to locate specific information within the text. Questions begin very simply where only one link must be clicked to locate the answer and progress to where three links are required to arrive at the page with the answer. A teacher's key is included to provide not only the answers, but also the hyperlink icon labels that create the path leading to where the information is in the text.

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Session 3

Use the Connecting Concepts Organizer (bubble chart) to guide students in generalizing the biome information and comprehending how human interaction impacts the environment. Students should identify two facts that illustrate destruction or endangerment to the biome and then synthesize how human interaction is causing this. Then they should develop an action that could help to solve the problem. Have students use the facts they wrote in the appropriate bubbles to write two paragraphs. (Rainforest, grassland, wetlands, and shorelines are the best biomes in the site for accomplishing this task.)

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  • Use this same format with different subject area websites. Be careful to ensure text is presented at the reading level of your students.

Some suggested sites:

Enchanted Learning - dinosaurs

Kiddyhouse - farm animals

Geographia - countries of the world

Ben's Guide - government

  • Continue investigating other forms of information by viewing videotapes that support the Missouri Botanical Gardens/Evergreen Project.

    You may also want to check your media resources for videos that were created to accompany the Missouri Botanical Gardens/Evergreen Project site. These videos are currently being repackaged for marketing and are unavailable but have been previously sold since the early 1990s. The video education quality is excellent for this grade level band.

  • Compare information found on the website with that in a textbook, checking for accuracy and observing what information was included in each. (Was it the same or different? If different, how?)

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  • Session 1 - Text features. Review the Text Features chart created for understanding of text functions. Observe utilization of text organization to locate specific observation.

  • Session 2 - Locating information. Chart at which levels student was successful in locating information.

  • Session 3 - Generalizing information. Utilize a rubric to assess student's ability to generalize:

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