Utilizing Maps in Nonfiction Text

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SWBAT locate key details in an informational text by interpreting information in the text feature of maps.

Big Idea

Where in the world did you get that answer? Oh yeah, you used a map!

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

One of the big shifts in the Common Core Standards is for students to read, write, and speak where their evidence is grounded in informational or literary text.  In order to find evidence in informational text, they have to be able to utilize nonfiction text features to navigate around the piece of informational text. Today, students will be reading maps in order to solve comprehension questions.  This addresses standard RI1.5.

Since today's lesson utilizes maps, this lesson is cross-curricular in the area of social studies. It is very natural for first grade teachers to be in "cross curricular mode," since we teach all content areas.  My goal as a teacher is to make sure my students have access to many different types of texts so they can be successful in all subject areas.  The framers of the Common Core Standards knew this.  This is what they say about the range and content of student reading:

"By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades."

I have an important job in this lesson.  I have to not only teach them how to use and read a map, but also to use that information in order to help them understand the text overall better.

For today's lesson you will need the Smartboard Nonfiction Text Features.notebook or Activboard Nonfiction Text Features.flipchart lesson "Nonfiction Text Features" and a globe.  You will also want to look through and copy the student work, called "Animal Maps Questions.pdf," and try to tailor the maps to your students' reading levels.  I created many different sets of maps and questions that are suitable for your struggling readers to those advanced students who need an extra challenge.

Introducing the Lesson and Connecting the Concept to Text

15 minutes

I started the lesson by stating the objective.  I said, "Today we are going to learn about another nonfiction text feature - maps.  When we read books that talk about people, animals, or things from different parts of the world, the author likes to show where that part of the world is on the map so that we can understand more about that topic. We are going to learn what maps are, how to read them, and then answer questions by using a map as a tool."  I then told them we were going to get a good understanding of what a map is by reading "Mapping Penny's World" by Loreen Leedy.

As we read, we would stop and talk about the various maps in the book.  We discussed what a map key was, and I pointed out the map scales and symbols on the different maps in the book. I would also ask text dependent questions where students had to look back in the text at the maps in order to answer the questions.  I would ask questions such as, "What did the author use to show where Penny likes to hide her toys? (symbols) How do you know which was is East on the map?"  I have included a resource Prompts-for-Text-Dependent-Questions.pdf that may help you to ask text dependent questions of your students.

Guided Practice (We Do)

25 minutes

After reading the text, I also wanted my students to make the connection between a map and a globe.  I hoped making this connection might help make maps, which are quite abstract, more concrete for students.  I brought out my globe and explained that a globe was a visual representation of the world, and if we were to cut the globe and lay it out flat, then that would be a map of the world.  I showed the students all sorts of features on the globe: oceans, continents, poles, hemispheres, and the equator.  Students had questions, and we had a great discussion about the features of a globe. 

I then opened up my Smartboard lesson and we did the map activities on pages 38-44. We reviewed  what a compass rose was and then found continents, straits, the equator and other map features.  To prepare them for their independent practice, I also wrote questions for the Smartboard lesson that students had to answer by using the map.  We practiced these skills together. Once I knew that students had a good understanding of how to read a map and how to answer questions by using the map as a tool, I knew it was time for the independent practice part of the lesson.

Independent Practice

20 minutes

I had entirely too much fun creating these map activities.  Every time I found a new map online I just kept creating questions for it.  You will probably have extra maps which is fine.  My intention was to make sure each student had at least 2 maps to work on.  I have some really simple maps for my struggling readers and some really challenging ones for my advanced students. 

There are times when I have my students work in partners or groups.  Today, I wanted them to work by themselves.  I wanted to use their work as an assessment as to how well they could use a map as a tool to answer comprehension questions.  This is that they will have to do from now on in their schooling, so there's no time like the present to start assessing them independently. 

I explained to the students that they were all going to get different maps based on what reading group they were in.  They were to study the map and all the features of the map and then read the questions that go along with it.  They would have to read the map in order to answer the questions.  I asked, "Does everyone understand what to do?"

After handing out the maps, I started circulating around the room.  I really tried to keep my mouth closed for this activity, especially for my struggling readers.  I wanted this activity to be rigorous and I knew they might have to struggle a bit before they arrived at the answer.  I'm also learning how to ask questions instead of telling students that they're wrong.  If I saw that they answered a question wrong I would say, "Can you show me how you got your answer? Where did you find that information on the map?" Then I would have them explain their thinking with the intention that they would find their own mistakes. 

You can see 2 videos of my students working on their independent work here Reading Our Maps Video One.mp4 and here Reading Our Maps Video Two.mp4 along with my reflection on this independent practice section.


3 minutes

     I'm really trying to do better on my closure activities since I know this is not my favorite part of a lesson.  I wanted my closure to be short and sweet, yet still effective.  I took a hackey sack ball and said, " Who can tell me what we learned today?" and threw to ball to a student.  After they answered, I asked, " Why is learning how to use a map when reading nonfiction important?" and had the first student throw the ball to another student so they could answer. 

     We threw the ball several more times.  I asked, " Who can tell me something interesting you learned when you worked on your map and set of questions?" having several more students throw the ball and answering questions.