Research Building Blocks: Notes, Quotes, and Fact Fragments

3 - 5
Lesson Plan Type
Estimated Time
60 minutes
  • Preview
  • |
  • Standards
  • |
  • Resources & Preparation
  • |
  • Instructional Plan
  • |
  • Related Resources
  • |
  • Comments


Through a teacher-modeled activity, students learn the importance of finding the words in sentences and paragraphs that contain the facts they need. Students then practice finding these fact fragments in small groups using an online activity. Next, they turn fact fragments into complete sentences written in their own words, moving from teacher modeling, to small group work, to independent practice. Finally, they arrange the sentences they have created into complete paragraphs.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

Teaching the process and application of research should be an ongoing part of all school curriculums. It is important that research components are taught all through the year, beginning on the first day of school. Dreher et al. explain that "[S]tudents need to learn creative and multifaceted approaches to research and inquiry. The ability to identify good topics, to gather information, and to evaluate, assemble, and interpret findings from among the many general and specialized information sources now available to them is one of the most vital skills that students can acquire" (39). In "Nonfiction Inquiry: Using Real Reading and Writing to Explore the World," Stephanie Harvey also stresses the importance of nonfiction: "Nonfiction enhances our understanding. It allows us to investigate the real world and inspires us to dig deeper to inquire and better understand." (13)

Further Reading

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

  • 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).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 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.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).




For background information on plagiarism and examples of acceptable/unacceptable paraphrasing, see Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • use a variety of graphic organizers to connect important ideas in text to prior knowledge and other reading.

  • demonstrate an accurate understanding of information and differentiate between fact and opinion.

  • interpret concepts or make connections through analysis, evaluation, inference, and/or comparison.

  • collect and analyze information relevant to the topic.

  • discriminate between relevant and irrelevant information.

  • access and use information from a variety of sources.

  • organize, synthesize, and paraphrase/summarize information.

Instruction & Activities

  1. Discuss note taking with the students. Provide them with the following definition: "A note is a "fact fragment"—a piece of information that will become a complete thought in the writing process."

  2. Explain to students why notes are important:

    • Too much information to write down if you were writing complete sentences

    • Plagiarism—discussion topic
  3. After the students understand the concept of why note taking is needed, model taking notes with the students by completing Notes and Quotes Activity #1.

  4. It works well if students can see the paragraph while the teacher is writing fact fragments identified by the students.

  5. Fact Fragment Frenzy is an online activity that students can complete in small groups. This interactive requires students to locate key vocabulary in a passage and drag it over to a work area to create their own fact fragments. The work can be printed out as an assessment of their understanding of the thought process involved in finding key words without plagiarizing.

  6. The next part of note taking is turning the notes, or fact fragments, into sentences. This step is important because it turns information you find into your own words. Model the process of turning notes into sentences by completing Notes and Quotes Activity #2.

  7. It is useful for students to be able to see the orginal notes while constructing sentences. The first two sentences could be whole class and moving to small group and finally the last sentence would be contructed by each student.

  8. Using the fact fragments created and printed out by the small groups, students can practice turning their fact fragements into sentences.

  9. Once notes have been taken and sentences written, the students need to learn how to organize the sentences into paragraphs. The teacher can model the process by completing Notes and Quotes Activity #3 as a whole class.

  10. Using the animal sentences created in small groups, ask students to move from sentences to paragraph construction.

  11. When the students have had guided practice with note taking, sentence writing, and the creation of paragraphs, they are ready to get started on their own research report!


Student Assessment / Reflections

  1. Observations during modeling of skills will help the teacher determine if students are ready to attempt the tasks in small groups.

  2. Based upon samples collected from small groups, some students might require a conference to receive more instruction before attempting the task with multiple sources independently.

  3. As part of the guided practice students will be asked to find fact fragements in sample nonfiction passages on animals. Students will print their finished product from the fact finding online activity. The teacher should examine those for accuracy before asking students to find facts in multiple sources independently.

  4. As part of the guided practice students will be asked to use the fact fragements found in the sample nonfiction passages on animals and turn them into complete sentences. The teacher should examine those to make sure concepts were portrayed accurately without plagiarizing the text before asking students to move from finding facts to writing sentences independently.

  5. Again by asking the students to use the sentences they have completed to formulate paragraphs, their understanding of the process can be checked before they move on to implementing this strategy with less familiar content.

Add new comment