Researching Our Class Culture: Puerto Rico

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SWBAT gather relevant information about a topic.

Big Idea

How can my prior experiences make me a contributing member of my team?

Background Information

20 minutes

    As I continue to gather background information of my students, so that I can grasp a better understanding of their life experiences, I focus on another of my student's place of origin:  Puerto Rico.  Again, I access prior knowledge by completing a graphic organizer:  KWL Chart (See Resource). 


This lesson, which is a part of a series of lessons that I teach at the beginning of the year to get to know my students, will focus on Puerto Rico, since many of my students share that heritage. Other lessons are available within this unit that show more cultures that we explore.

Common Core Standards consider students' prior knowledge and life experiences when applying knowledge.  So, I ask students what they already know about Puerto Rico from prior experiences.  After much discussions and explanations of what students already know, we move on to the "Want to know" section of the KWL chart. The "What I want to know" section is important because this generates students to ask questions.  As we list what students want to know about Puerto Rico, the list serves as our guiding questions.  I remind students to look for answers to these guiding questions as  we view the images, video clips, and articles on my flipchart (see resource). The main source for my flipchart is


My Life Experiences

20 minutes

     I read an article from about Puerto Rico and ask the student from Puerto Rico, whether the book was accurate in describing her homeland and culture. Then, we create a Venn Diagram to document similarities and differences between the student's prior experiences, and the facts mentioned in the article.  We discuss reasons for the similarities and differences.  Common Core standards require students to answer both with knowledge directly from text, but also knowledge from personal experiences.  Sometimes, a combination of both is needed to answer questions.

     We complete the answers to our W questions on the KWL Chart.  Our answers are combined from both text and prior knowledge.  I explain to students that some questions can be answered using a combination of "In your Head" and "Text evidence".  This is a similar technique that we used for QAR (Question Answer Response) in which there are two locations for answers to questions (see resource): 

  1. In the Book
  2. In your head


I used this research Source  to frame this part of the lesson. It really shaped my understanding of how to support students in their research.

Travel Brochure

20 minutes

    As a final activity, I ask students to help me create a brochure of Puerto Rico.  I show students a template that I project on the Promethean board.  I model researching for specific information for this brochure.  There are specified sections of the brochure that needs to be completed.  However, research must be completed to get answers to questions about Puerto Rico.  i use a template to create my brochure  and read the directions to students (see attached).