Predicting and Gathering Information With Nonfiction Texts

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Estimated Time
Approximately eight 20-minute class sessions
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The reading community recognizes nonfiction as vital to early learners. This concept is relatively new, and most primary teachers have little experience with how to introduce nonfiction to their students and use it as part of the reading curriculum. This lesson supports second grade teachers in introducing nonfiction to their students and using it for informational purposes. Students develop an understanding of nonfiction through peer interaction and hands-on experiences with books. They use graphic organizers to record their thinking and new learning.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Today, nonfiction is published on a wide range of topics, with engaging formats and illustrations, and for a variety of reading levels-including the primary grades.

  • Young children should be exposed to a variety of texts in the primary years. Not only should there be broad topical coverage to meet individual interests and curriculum needs, but a variety of reading levels so that all children can read at both independent and instructional levels.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Materials and Technology

  • Clipboards for groups of students
  • Computers with Internet access
  • Overhead projector and marker





1. Designate a comfortable meeting area in the classroom that will seat all students for group work.

2. Bookmark the following websites on the classroom or school computers:

3. Gather clipboards with paper for students to report what their teams find from their nonfiction books.

4. Make an overhead transparency of the nonfiction study sheet and enough copies for each student.

5. Set up three research stations. One station area will be on the computer with the African Savanna page bookmarked. Arrange your collection of nonfiction books related to the African Savanna (or books related to another theme) so that several books are at each of the other two stations.

6. Plan to arrange students into four groups. You may want to include at least one student in every group who knows how to work on the computer and with the Internet. If your students are not computer savvy, recruit older "experts" from other levels to help with the Internet research station.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Use nonfiction texts to gather and document information

  • Raise questions concerning the topic of study (for this lesson, African Savanna animals)

  • Create charts and diagrams for organizing information presented in nonfiction

  • Report on their findings

Session 1

1. Gather your students in the designated group meeting area, and hold up the book Africa by Art Wolfe.

2. Ask students to predict what the book will be about from the cover and the title. Accept all appropriate answers. Possible responses may include "Africa," "animals that live in Africa," "true stories," and so on.

3. Explain to your students that this book is a nonfiction or informational text. It is a true story about the animals that live in Africa.

4. Next, ask the class what they notice about this book while flipping through the pages very carefully. Appropriate responses may include "it has real pictures," "there are words and pictures on each page," and so on.

5. Ask students how nonfiction may be different from the fiction stories they have read before. Give students examples of fiction stories you have shared with them. It may also be helpful to have examples of fiction texts to compare.

Sessions 2 and 3

1. Continue using the book Africa by Art Wolfe. Explain that nonfiction texts contain factual information. The book that they will be looking at during this session is a true story about the African Savanna.

2. Using your overhead of the nonfiction study sheet, focus on completing the section labeled "My first thoughts," by asking students what they already know about the African Savanna. Record students' responses on the overhead.

3. Then ask students if they have any questions about the African Savanna. Write their questions in the section labeled "Questions I have."

4. Begin reading some of the book aloud. While reading, ask if there are any new questions that students want to add to the nonfiction study sheet.

5. Periodically or at the end of each session, ask students to tell you some things that they have learned and record their responses in the section labeled "New learning."

Note: You do not have to finish reading the entire text as the purpose of this session is to show students how to gather information from nonfiction texts.

Sessions 4 and 5

1. Explain to your students that for the next two sessions they are going to be split into four explorer groups and sent on a safari. On their safari, each group will have a clipboard and the nonfiction study sheet. There are African Safari stations around the room, and they will explore one or two stations a day. As explorers, they will work in their teams to learn about the animals in the safari.

2. Once in their groups, ask each group to choose one animal that they would like to report on. You may want to give students some choices for the animals, such as giraffes, lions, cheetahs, hippos, zebras, and apes.

3. Before they set out, ask each group to write down what they already know about the animal they selected and any questions they have on their nonfiction study sheet.

4. Lead groups of students around to the various research stations that you have set up in the classroom, including the computer station with the African Savanna webpage bookmarked. As students learn new things, remind them to write it under the heading "New learning" on their nonfiction study sheets.

Note: When having students work in groups, it is helpful to give them some guidelines before the activity begins. Some rules for noise level and moving around the room are vital for successful group work.

Session 6

1. Tell your student explorers that they are going to create animal study guides to show each other what they have learned about their animals.

2. Set the groups at the computers with the interactive Animal Study open on the screens.

3. Have students type in their animals and names, and then click "Animal Facts."

4. Go through each step one by one with your students, and help them to find information from their study sheets to fit in the graphic organizer.

5. If students did not record facts about the animals' appearance, behavior, or dietary preferences, help them to explore alternate resources to locate the information.

6. Remind students to print their graphic organizers before closing the program. [Students cannot save their work online.]

Session 7

1. Tell students that they will be sharing the information that they learned with the class. Gather students into their same groups.

2. Have each group select one student to share the information from the printed copy of the animal study guide. Another student should be chosen to share something interesting about the animal. The remaining students will be asked to share other information or new questions they have from their nonfiction study sheet.

3. In the large meeting area, have students gather with their groups. Be sure to remind students of what a listener's job is while the different groups are presenting.

4. Facilitate the presentations by choosing each group one at a time to share their animal study guide, nonfiction study sheet, and interesting facts or questions.

Session 8

Discuss with students what they have learned during this lesson. It is important for them to understand that the purpose of nonfiction is to inform the reader. New information learned from a nonfiction text can be recorded on a chart or graphic organizer.


  • Review science standards to choose leveled, guided reading books for students that are appropriate for their reading level. Students should only be given nonfiction books that are written at their level and focus on a familiar topic. Choosing books based on standards covered the previous year may be one way to help in your decision-making process.

  • Encourage students to keep their nonfiction collection in a place where they can share or buddy-read them with their classmates.

  • Set up time for students to work with a librarian to learn how to find nonfiction in the library and how to use the library for research.

  • Have students keep nonfiction journal notebooks. In their journals, students can collect information they have learned about nonfiction and their thoughts, questions, and new information from their nonfiction study sheets.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Observe students while they are visiting the three station areas and take anecdotal notes to determine their use of nonfiction texts for gathering information. If there is any confusion, assist students as necessary.

  • Review students' written responses on their nonfiction study sheets. Were they able to draw upon prior knowledge to fill in the first column? Were they able to generate questions about the animals before reading? Did they record their new learning during reading? Did they have any new questions about the animals after reading?

  • Review the printouts from the interactive Animal Study to determine whether students were able to find and chart facts about their animals on a graphic organizer.

  • Evaluate students in their groups and during the presentations. Were they able to work together? Did they follow directions? Did the presentations include the information requested?

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