Lesson Plan:

Informational Text: Citing Evidence Like a Detective

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October 23, 2015
by Gabriela Lozano

Learning Objectives

Students will learn how to use color-coding as a reading strategy to help them determine what the text says explicitly. Students will use paragraph and sentence labeling to help them cite specific textual evidence to demonstrate understanding of the text. Students will learn to use dictionaries to clarify the precise meaning of a key word or phrase.


Introduction (5 minutes)

  • Display the following sentences on the board: "I know that dogs are mammals because they provide milk for their puppies. I know that apples are fruits because they have seeds and grow on trees. I know that dancing is fun because I like it."
  • Explain to your students that one of the three sentences doesn’t belong because it doesn’t include a fact or provide a good source of supporting evidence
  • Have students turn to their partner and discuss which one they believe should be crossed out.
  • After a minute, have one volunteer come up to the board and cross out the sentence that does not belong.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (15 minutes)

  • Continue the lesson by informing students that the third sentence doesn’t belong with the rest because it shares an opinion, not a fact, and that liking something doesn’t support an argument.
  • Explain to the students that in real life, scientists and detectives work hard to find evidence that can support their theories or beliefs by using tools for close analysis, such as microscopes and magnifying glasses.
  • Explain that today, the class will use two different reading strategies to help them locate and cite evidence within a text, like a detective or scientist.
  • Display the 5 Ws anchor chart and tell students that detectives and scientists always ask “Who? What? When? Where? Why?” when trying to solve a mystery or find an answer. Tell them that to be great readers they have to be able to answer those 5 Ws by finding textual evidence within their close reading.
  • Using the sentence from the anchor chart, tell students that the “Who?” in this sentence is the Chipmunks.
  • Underline “Chipmunks” in red.
  • Continue the modeling activity by underlining “like to eat fatty, nutritious nuts before winter” with a green marker because it is “What” they like to do.

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (10 minutes)

  • Choose three volunteers to come up to the board and underline the correct textual evidence for the remaining 3 Ws: Why, when, and where.
  • Tell your students that the “Where” should be answered based on their own inferences. Remind them that authors don’t always tell you the setting up front but that they can provide clues for the reader. Explain that they have to use the clues that they do know and their own background knowledge to discover what they don’t know.
  • For example, students know that the author is talking about chipmunks and nuts. Therefore, a good inference would be that this sentence probably takes place near a tree, since that is a usual habitat for chipmunks, and because nuts grow on trees.

Independent Working Time (60 minutes)

  • Divide students into three groups and have them work on the following 3 activities. Rotate groups after 20 minutes.
  • Group 1: Vocabulary Time handout: Ask students in Group 1 to work on writing out and defining the vocabulary words of the day, using their own inferences and a dictionary.
  • Group 2: Thinking Map/Bubble Map: Help students in Group 2 draw out a 5 Ws Thinking Map to work on. See the attachment for an example. Ask students to draw and label the 6-piece graphic organizer to answer the 5 Ws of the following sentence: "During the cold winter months, skunks get comfy in their dens and hibernate with their family to save their energy and avoid the freezing temperatures." Have students then use markers to underline each of the 5 Ws with the correct color.
  • Group 3: Read With the Teacher: Read off the Grizzly Bears handout with this group of students. Once the story is complete, have students answer three reading comprehension questions by citing the text, labeling the paragraphs, and color-coding the answers within the text.



  • Enrichment: Challenge advanced students by asking them to generate their own sentences for the Bubble Map Time! activity.
  • Support: Allow struggling students to draw and label the definitions for the Vocabulary Time! activity. Help students to successfully complete their Bubble Map Time! activity by allowing them to create a larger version of it on chart paper with a partner.


Assessment (10 minutes)

  • Collect and score students' final production of their activities.

Review and Closing (5 minutes)

  • Prompt students to turn to their nearest classmate and discuss two things they learned in this lesson.

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