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Lesson Plan

Viking Voyagers: Navigating Online Content Area Reading

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Viking Voyagers: Navigating Online Content Area Reading

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 40- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Kathleen Smyth

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Practice critical reading skills in a content area subject by answering questions before, during, and after they read

  • Practice research skills by navigating websites, scanning for relevant information, and recording that information in a graphic organizer

  • Access background knowledge using a prereading questionnaire and demonstrate comprehension by using the same questionnaire after reading

  • Practice working collaboratively to complete research and answer questions

  • Analyze their own decisions by completing a chart while they participate in an online game

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Session 1

1. Set the purpose for reading by explaining to students that they will be studying the Vikings. Tell them they will demonstrate what they already know about the Vikings; clear any misconceptions they might have; and apply what they learn through questionnaires, an inquiry chart, and by playing a game.

2. Write the words The Vikings on the board or a sheet of chart paper. Ask students if they know who the Vikings are. What do they know about them? Conduct a brief discussion; you may choose to list students' responses on the board. Mention the key facts you jotted down (see Preparation, Step 1).

3. Explain that everyone comes to new topics with different amounts of background knowledge and that they will be completing a questionnaire to assess what they know about the Vikings. They should answer every question on the list, even if they are unsure of the answer.

4. Students should complete the Pre column of the Pre- and Postreading Questionnaire independently.

5. Break students into their groups to discuss the questionnaire. Students can compare their responses and respond to the following questions:

  • What evidence can you cite to support your responses?

  • Based on the discussion with your peers, will you revise any of your original responses?
6. Instruct students to put the questionnaire in their notebooks; they will be completing it after they have finished their research.

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Session 2

Note: If you do not have classroom computers, this session should take place in the computer lab.

1. Remind students about the background knowledge they accessed during Session 1. Explain that now they will be completing research to help them add to that knowledge. This research will involve visiting three websites, scanning them for information, and recording their information in a graphic organizer that will help them monitor their understanding of what they read and keep track of the new information they have found.

2. Distribute copies of the Inquiry Chart: The Vikings with the categories you would like the groups to concentrate on. Demonstrate its use by going to Who Were the Vikings? and reading the responses to the first two questions. Using the blank copy of the Inquiry Chart that you have copied onto chart paper or a transparency, in the Warfare column under Source 1 write down "There was no Viking army. Raids were independent." Write the source name in the appropriate column. Next go to BBC History: Viking Weapons and Warfare, read the first paragraph, and in the box below the first one you filled out, write "Vikings raided Britain, western Europe, and beyond." Write the source in the appropriate column.

3. Students should spend 30 minutes working in their groups to look at the websites listed in the Resources section and write down the information they find on their graphic organizers. They should have at least two facts from two different sources for each column and should focus on finding the facts they think are most important to explain about the Vikings. When they encounter conflicting information, they can write it down and should star both entries.

4. Bring the groups back together for a discussion. Using the blank copy of the Inquiry Chart that you have copied onto chart paper or a transparency, work with students to decide what information they have collected should be included. Questions for discussion include:

  • How did you decide what was essential information?

  • What similarities/differences did you see when you compared the websites?

  • Was there any information that conflicted? If so, what was the difference? How did you decide which information was correct?

  • Why do you think you got conflicting information on the same topic?

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Session 3

1. Students should fill out the Post column of their Pre- and Postreading Questionnaires independently. Individual students can consult their group's inquiry chart to take notes as they answer the questions.

2. Have students review and discuss their answers as a whole class. Questions for discussion include:

  • What did they know about Vikings before they completed their research?

  • What do they know now?

  • What piece of information about the Vikings surprised them the most? Why?

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Session 4

Note: If you do not have classroom computers, this session should take place in the computer lab.

1. Show students the Viking Quest game. Distribute the Viking Quest Decisions sheet and review the questions. Explain that students will complete the quest in their groups and that they should fill out the Decisions sheet while they are completing the game, defending each decision using their knowledge of the Vikings.

2. While students complete the game and the Decisions sheet, circulate, observe, and offer assistance as needed.

3. When everyone has completed the game and filled out their sheets, gather the class together to compare their answers and scores. Questions for discussion include:

  • How did your research help your group strategically navigate the game?

  • What were the required decision-making skills?

  • Did everyone in your group agree with the decisions? If not, how did you come to a consensus?
4. Distribute a copy of the Group Self-Assessment Rubric to each group. Review the rubric and scoring process with students so they understand how to complete the rubric in their groups. Inform students that you will fill out the same rubric for each group before meeting with the groups to compare the results. Students should work in their groups to fill out the rubric and return them to you with their Inquiry Chart: The Vikings and Viking Quest Decisions handouts.

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  • Have students test their Viking knowledge using the online Crossword Puzzle tool. Select Play One of Ours and the 6-8 tab. In the drop-down menu you will find a puzzle titled The Vikings. Students can solve the puzzle online or you can print it off and give them blank copies. For more information about the puzzle, see Playing Puzzles: A Guide for Teachers

  • Have students write a story told from the point of view of one type of Viking (for example, a berserker or a chieftain). Post the stories on a class website or publish them in a class book about the Vikings.

  • Students can write questions about the Vikings using Runes. Have them trade, decode, and answer questions to test their postresearch knowledge.

  • The Pre- and Postreading Questionnaire can be adapted for any subject area (health, world language, math) to assess students' background knowledge as well as setting a purpose for what information students will be learning during the lesson.

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  • Informally assess students' comprehension throughout the lesson with anecdotal notes based on class and group discussions and by collecting and reviewing the Pre- and Postreading Questionnaire.

  • Use the Teacher Rubric: Viking Voyagers to assess group work, research, and how well students were able to complete the game. Reviewing the Inquiry Chart: The Vikings and Viking Quest Decisions handout for each group will help you do this.

  • Meet with students in their groups to compare their rubrics to yours. Discuss the research project asking them why they chose the facts they did, what they learned, and how well they were able to complete the game.

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