What do you Know?

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Students will be able to gather information from provided resources to answer a question.

Big Idea

Using resources helps students show what they know.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I show them the little video clip I have loaded on the SMARTBoard. It is a video clip about the Emperor penguin from the National Geographic website.

After the clip is over I tell the students we are now going to read another book about an animal that needs our help. 

I use this short video clip to engage my students interest and to show me which students already have some prior knowledge on the topic. Seeing what my students know helps me to gauge where to start my lesson and how much information needs to be shared during the lesson.  


45 minutes

“The book for today is about an animal that really needs us to take care of the Earth because our actions are affecting their habitat. The title is Antarctica, by Helen Cowcher. Can anyone tell me anything they know about Antarctica?”

I use the fair sticks to select students to respond to the question. 

“You are right Carson; Antarctica is in the Southern Hemisphere of the world.”

“Great Finn; it is a very cold place covered with snow and ice.”

“Yes Rhys; penguins do live there.”

“Those were all great facts about Antarctica.”

“Now boys and girls do we always need to read non-fiction books to learn new information?”

“No you're right; we can also learn information from fiction books too. Can someone tell me how I know this book is a fiction book?” As I speak I turn the pages of the book so the students can see them.

Once again I use the fair sticks to select students to respond to the question.

“Your right Justin this book does not have a table of contents.”

“I did not see any labels either Rachel.”

“No pop-out or bold words. Good responses.”

“Well we are going to go ahead and read our book called Antarctica and see what facts we can learn.”

During reading:

  • We review the word “floe” by looking at the picture of the Weddell seals sitting on the ice floes. We recall how it is a piece of ice which has broken off a larger piece of ice – either an ice sheet or an ice berg.
  • We discuss why it is “dark both day and night.”
  • We discuss why the father penguin must keep the egg up off the ice.
  • We practice “huddling” and discuss why this is a good behavioral adaptation to survive.
  • We infer how the little Adelie penguins felt when they heard the “terrible whirring noise,” and discuss the impact the humans had on the nesting site.
  • We review the words, “friend or foe,” from our In 1492 Christopher Columbus lesson.

After the book is finished I set the book aside and ask the students to recall which animal the book was mainly about.

“That’s right; the main animal in this book was the penguin.”

“Today at one of your work stations you will see the table covered in many different non-fiction books all about the…” I leave the word hanging as I want the students to come up with it.    

“That’s right; the penguin.”

Why informational text?

“It will be your job as scientists to go through the books and come up with two facts about the penguin. You will record your facts on the recording sheet which you will find at the station.” I hold one up for the students to see.  

“After you have written your two facts you will need to reinforce your fact with an illustration.”

“Can anyone tell me the first thing you will do before you do anything else?”

“Well done. You will need to write your name and date stamp it.”

“Once you have written your name, can anyone tell me what you will do next?”

“Yes Brennan you will look for two facts and write them down. What comes next?”

“Great Owen you will illustrate your work.”

“Now what will I do if I cannot read the books or I need help to know which words to write?”

“Fantastic Louise; I can ask a friend or a grown-up in the room.”

“Does anyone have any questions?”

Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some penguin fact fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”

Allow the students 15-20 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

Students working 1     Students working 2     Students working 3     Students working 4         Students working 5


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

 Student sample 1     Student sample 2

Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me one fact they learned about a penguin.

Once a student has told me his/her fact they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work together on coming up with a penguin fact. 


For this activity I go over the students work using the Penguin Fact Checklist to see if they met the set objectives. Once the checklist has been completed, it is attached to the student’s work and placed in their collection portfolio. 

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objective of the assignment. I am looking to see if a student used correct grammar skills, practiced phonetic spelling and if the writing piece made sense. Did the student support their writing with an illustration and is the work neat and tidy.  

The checklist helps me because the work sample provides me with evidence of students learning as to whether the student has met the objectives or not. The checklist helps to convey information to the student’s family as to how well they are doing in class, and finally it helps the student by letting him/her know how he/she did and if there are areas where he/she could improve. 



Work on building a Pete the Penguin paper bag puppet. This penguin is only able to eat food which has the same beginning sound as the word penguin. 

 Working on Pete the Penguin puppet


Play the game “Roll a Penguin.” The students use a die to roll for parts. The first person to build their penguin is the winner.

Playing Roll-a-Penguin 1     Playing Roll-a-Penguin 2


Students review color sight words by making sure they color the penguins bow tie the correct color. This activity comes from the Making Learning Fun website.

Penguin Bow Tie coloring 1     Penguin Bow Tie coloring 2     Penguin Bow Tie coloring 3


Or if you did not want to use so much paper to make the books you could use cardstock to make this activity to use over and over again. The students have to match the correct colored tie to the color word on the penguin. This activity is also from the Making Learning Fun website.