Let's Map Out A Plan by Locating Facts In Informational Text!

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SWBAT use text features, including maps and captions, to locate facts in a digital text.

Big Idea

Compare the routes of American explorers by reading and looking at maps online!




The internet websites for the explorer map websites are listed above. They can be accessed from a computer or iPad. They are VERY easy to use and really fun for the kids. Take a few moments to explore them so you can demonstrate them during the lesson. 

Let's Get Excited

10 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


Gain interest and bring students to a common learning point

  • Pull up the website"We've talked about early American explorers. Today we're going to read and find out more about these men."
  • "I have a cool website to show you - you can read about an explorer and then see an 'interactive' map of the route that he took."
  • Review the ideas:
    • Explorers came from many countries
    • They explored all over America
    • Explorers came for many reasons
  • Review the target vocabulary on whiteboard that you choose.
  • "Let's pick an explorer and see where he went."  Show some of the explorers and their routes.  Here's what it looked like when I was gaining students' interest & giving background knowledge.


Although I don't like to 'front load' lessons with a lot of information (I like to keep the focus on the text), I wanted to spend a few moments reviewing the ideas of explorers since there was SO much information that we covered the day before. We have been talking about early World Exploration and it was worth spending a few moments on vocabulary and names, which went a long way toward allowing the kids to have an overall picture before they started answering specific questions about the topic. Anytime we have new information in a text that's loaded with text features, I tend to spend 2 days on the information. On the first day, we get an overall picture and I teach the vocabulary and concepts. The second day we go back and review the vocabulary and concepts before applying them to a new learning situation (the website).

Teachers' Turn

15 minutes

Model how to use the website and garner information 

  • Pull up the phschool website with text and informational features. "Take a look at this other website that has a text features and informational text for us to read." 
  • "We've talked about Christopher Columbus before."
    • "Do you remember where he left from and where he went to?"
    • Take a look - I'll click on his name and let's read the information."
    • "There is some good informational text on this website that let's me know more about his voyage!"  
    • Read the information.


Highlight the idea of a text feature

  • "This map is a text feature".  Put the 'map' visual on the board for students.
  • "How does this map help me understand what I just read better?" Take ideas.  (find places, show where to go)  
  • "Text features, like a map, add to and support what we read. The text says that he left Spain. I can look at my map to see where that is.  It says that he took several voyages. Watch as I show the voyages that he took."  (Show the route interactively.) 
  • "Do you take the time to look at maps and other text features when you read?  Now that you're in second grade, you'll see lots of text features in our informational texts.  If you want to be a better reader, take the time to look at them and see how they help you."


As students know and use informational text features to locate key facts and information in a text efficiently, they are analyzing the sturcuter of texts and how those features (chapters, sections, glossaries, etc) bring meaning to the text (RI.2.5) Students are participating in 'close reading', looking at not only the text, but the illustrations and text features that carry so much information.


Explain the task

  • "On the board, there's an organizer that we'll fill out about the explorer. I'll use the text on the website and the interactive map to help me fill it out."  (To see how I set this up, look at my whiteboard example.)
  • Highlight some target vocabulary as you do this... (‘famous’ ‘birthplace’ ‘education’ for biographies) related to the topic (especially if its related to your social studies unit)
  • "There are actually lots of maps on this website.  Look at all of the explorers and the routes that they've taken.  Today you'll be reading more about these explorers." Here's a video of our discussion about explorer routes.

Students Take A Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • "Now it's your turn to do some reading and exploration."  Pass out the worksheets.
  • "I'll read over the text for each explorer to the students from the website and show you the maps too. As I read, look at the map.  "Wow, look at the map - it shows where he went.  I'm glad we have this text feature to help us see how far North that explorer went.  I would not know that from the text only." 


Read the information

  • "Now let's pick out 3 explorers to write about. Let's start this together because this text is sort of hard to read. Then we'll break into groups to finish the information."
  • When we finish the worksheet by looking at the digital information, then I'll give you your own map to draw where your explorer went."


Work in groups

  • "Now that you've started the worksheet, I want you to go in groups (or individually if you have enough computers or iPads) and finish the chart."
  • "Use your ipads/computers with the website to go back and look at the routes one more time. Remember our iPad Rules to keep the technology safe." There's a video how it looks to have the students students using the website
  • Remember the rules for good group work. I referenced our group rules poster.
  • Here are pictures of students working (completing the worksheet, map and working on the computer).
  • Walk around and check student progress. A few of my students said, "How do I find out where he went? I reminded them.... "Did you look at the map?"  Ask students, "What does 'voyage' mean - that word is on the board? Does the map give you a better idea than the text alone?"
  • Here's a completed student worksheet to help you see a finished product.
  • "Raise your hand when you're done.  I'll give you a map and you can draw the route of your favorite explorer.  Use the website to help you. Write his name on your map."

Continue who to model how to explain how this specific image (maps) contribute to and make the text clearer. (RI.2.7).  The shift in Common Core Standards require students to go beyond the words and use maps, captions, pictures, etc to gain information. This will continue beyond 2nd grade into later years as students probe deeper into these informational text features to answer more complex questions and use them as evidence to support their answers.

Apply What You've Learned!

10 minutes

Sharing ideas

  • "Who would like to come up and share your favorite explorer?  Tell us why you think he is interesting.  Where did he go? Why did he explore? Where was he from?  How did the map in this website help you understand him better?  Can you use the website to show the path the explorer took?"
  • Here's a nice example of one of my students Student sharing her ideas.
  • Ask questions about their worksheets and maps to prompt them to explain more...."Where did he go in America?  Is that close to our state?  Did he go inland or just on the coast?"
  • Make comments about how the map helps us understand more information. This text feature adds ideas and insight into the text.  Take a look at the pictures of my students' maps: completed map 1 and completed map 2.


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

Students with limited ability will need to work with the teacher or a partner to read. This could be done for the whole class. They could work in small groups as partners and only one person could read as others give insight to the worksheet.

Students with more ability should be challenged to explain more about explorers. I would ask for more insight – “Why did they go toward Mexico to find gold?  Why did Henry Hudson travel down the lakes into America and Canada?”