Regional Characteristics: Researching Using Nonfiction Texts

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SWBAT present information about a concept through researching with a nonfiction text.

Big Idea

Students get multiple opportunities to process new information and present it.


25 minutes

Geography is not typically a topic you associate with reading and writing and yet, that is often how students interact with it. The don't usually get a chance to explore the land physically. They learn about large and complex concepts within the topic of geography through reading. This is true for my students. In this lesson, I plan on providing multiple opportunities for students to interact with the information they are reading and presenting. I start with a quick introduction about what the class has been doing so far.

I say, "Yesterday, we learned that there are different landforms in Washington State.  The location of the landforms separate Washington into regions.  Today we will learn about the regions of Washington state. There are 5 regions in Washington: Coastal, Puget Sound Lowlands, Cascade Mountains, Columbia Plateau, and Rocky Mountains. Who has been to different regions of WA State? Can you describe some of the things you’ve noticed?"

Of course, this lesson could work with any state. You may have more or less than 5 regions in your state. It shouldn't matter. After they have accessed their prior knowledge I tell them what the activity will be today.

I say, "Today you will conduct research on the different regions of the state and important characteristics of the regions. First, I want you read and take notes. You will be reading information from the textbook as well as some supplemental handouts about Washington state. You will be using this note taking sheet."

I pass out materials and ask students to review them.

Before I ask them to complete it on their own, I guide them through how to fill out a section. I choose the region that students will be studying.

Finally, I tell them that they can start by working independently with shared materials to research and take notes on the characteristics of their assigned region.

Organizing Notes and Creating a Pamphlet

35 minutes

At this point in the lesson, they have read and taken notes on the important characteristics of their assigned region. I say to them, "Now that we have taken notes on our region, we’re going to reorganize it and choose the parts that are most important to the region and may be the most interesting. We are going to create a brochure that clearly shows what you have learned about the region."

I choose a brochure because it is another way for them to interact with the new information they have learned from their reading. A pamphlet also helps them organize their information by physically given them specific sections of the paper to fill.

Some of them have had some experience with pamphlets or brochures. It would be helpful to find some from local place or print some mock pamphlets up to show the class for those students who are not sure what they look like. 

To support students in creating a pamphlet, I ask the class to share out what they think might be included. I create a list from their ideas. Although, I hope they connect it back their note taking sheet. If they do not then near the end of the class share out, I suggest the way their note taking sheet was categorized as possible sections of their pamphlet because they already have their notes organized that way.

Before I give them their paper to design, I emphasize how important it is for them to plan out their ideas and the amount of space they need before they start writing on it. I show them an example where I sketched where I might put notes and pictures or titles. Then I give them their papers.

Presenting Information and Learning From Our Peers

20 minutes

They have just finished interacting with new information for a 3rd time, reading, note taking and now pamphlet making. Now they will get a chance to share it. This section gives students an opportunity to be an expert in what they studied. It also holds them accountable because they know they will be the only one to share about their specific region. 

Groups have been preassigned so that students who need more support can receive it from their peers and friends. I want to make sure students feel comfortable sharing it with others and not be worried about being judged. This is not a formal presentation so they only need to feel comfortable talking with others in their groups.

While a presenter is sharing, the rest of the members take notes on the information shared. This activity holds the listeners accountable so that they are not practicing what they are going to say or finishing up coloring and drawing on their pamphlet. It also gives them a chance to learn about the other regions in the state that they did not research. However, we will review these later as a class as well.

Students get into groups and then as the student who studied the region farthest to the west to share first and then go in order towards the east. They will have about 5 minutes per person to share and take notes.