Making Connections in Informational Text

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SWBAT find relationships between main ideas in nonfiction text.

Big Idea

How does it all relate?


10 minutes

Click here to find the articles online, and here it is in a word document.

I wanted to mix in some informational text with this nonfiction narrative, so I chose an interesting but quick article on Antarctica.  My students were very curious about this continent and how Shackleton was able to survive its freezing temperatures and harsh environment.  

On a side note, this activity could be done with any text or a combination of different genres on a similar topic.  My idea is to group students and have each group member read a different text on Antarctica.  Once they are finished, they will teach their group members all they have learned about the topic.  

I wanted groups of 3, so I divided the text into 3 sections:  Who are the natives of Antarctica?Who lives in Antarctica today?  I lumped Tourism and "Sort of" Towns together so that all 3 pieces would be similar in length.  

I have found that groups of 3 are ideal for my students if we are doing small group work.  When I group them in fours, the groups seem unfocused, and many times the students want to partner off anyway.  

I will first have my students create groups of three students.  I want them to have a choice in this part of the activity, but later, groups will be assigned at random.( I find that students are much more cooperative if they have a choice in partners, however, they don't always choose wisely.  This way, they will be working with a friend but also have the opportunity to work with someone new.  I also like to have plenty of movement in my class to keep everyone active and busy.  Changing up the group dynamics helps keep everyone on their toes.)  Once they have found a group, I'll give each group member one of the 3 articles.  If you happen to have a group or two of two students, just take out one of the articles.  

I'll either pre-label the articles with a 1, 2, or 3, or more likely, have the students label them once I pass them out.  

Now, I'll give students about 10 minutes to read quietly and highlight important information.  I'll remind them that they are the only person in their group with this information, so it is really important that they read carefully and thoroughly.  


15 minutes

Since students are participating in a jigsaw, each group member will have read a different text.  Once the students are finished reading, I will ask them to form a group of two or three that contains people who read the same article as they did.  Since the papers were numbered, I asked that they show their number by holding up their fingers and mill around until they find a partner or two.  

These groups will sit together and discuss the articles.  I'll ask them to decide on the 3 most important ideas in the text and write them down on the back of the article.  This activity promotes speaking and listening as well as comprehension.  I like to design lessons around the type of collaboration where students may have to support their opinions in order to make a point.  

Who lives in Antarctica today?


Who are the native of Antarctica?


15 minutes

Students will now return to their original groups.  First, they'll share out their 3 important ideas.  

Next, they'll create a relationship map.  Each person will take one box, and summarize the findings from their article in one sentence.  In other words, they'll be one box for each of the article's main ideas.

After that, the students will examine connecting boxes and look for connections, relationships, or similarities.  I expect this to be a little tricky, so I plan on modeling a relationship map with some easy examples.  I'll ask the students to give me a couple of topics, and together, we'll find connections. 

When students do this on their own, they'll write the connecting factors or relationships on the lines that join the boxes.

Finally, each group will create a graphic/symbol/picture that represents all of their information and draw it in the center of the map.  

When all groups are finished, we'll have a gallery walk so that we can see other people's ideas and connections.  I believe that finding connections between different topics really helps students understand the world around them.  They are making sense of previously unknown concepts and linking their knowledge to new ideas.