Lesson plan

Detective Reading

Roll up your sleeves and get out the magnifying glasses! In this lesson, your students will practice finding supportive details and examples in informational texts.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Prepositional Phrases as Key Details pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Prepositional Phrases as Key Details pre-lesson.
  • Students will identify supporting details and examples in an informational text.
The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Introduce your lesson by raising a discussion about detectives. Possible questions include:
    • What does a detective do?
    • What does a detective find to solve a mystery?
  • Write your students' answers on the board. Answers should include ideas about investigating and gathering clues or evidence.
  • Tell your students that they will become detectives as they read a text together. Explain that they will need to identify, or recognize, details and examples in order to "solve" questions.
(10 minutes)
  • Pass out the Chocolate: A Short and Sweet History worksheet.
  • Ask your students to get out their detective tools (highlighters or colored pens). This will help them identify details and examples.
  • Call on students to read the questions aloud. Explain that they will solve the four questions by identifying the answers in the text.
  • Ask your students to take turns reading parts of the passage aloud. With new vocabulary words in the text, ask your students to use context clues to determine their meanings.
  • Ask a volunteer to say the answer to the first question. Have them support their answer with details from the text. If correct, have your students underline or highlight those supporting details.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask your students to answer the second question, and then ask for a volunteer to state the answer. If the answer is not correct, tell the student to go back to the text.
  • Once a correct answer has been given, tell your students to mark with their highlighters or colored pens again. If your students have magnifying glasses, they can use them here as a fun way to look for supporting details!
  • Have your students identify details in the text that support their answers to the second question.
  • Ask for a volunteer to state the details. If the details are incorrect, be sure to guide students to the correct details in the text.
  • Ask your students why the details support their answer.
(25 minutes)
  • Instruct your students to complete the last two questions on their own and identify the supporting details in the text.
  • When your students are done, have them explain why the details support their answers for the third and fourth questions.
  • Give your students the John Muir Detective Reading worksheet to complete.


  • Give students a more advanced informational text to read, such as a summary of why the sky is blue. Ask questions that require scientific facts as supporting details.


  • Give your students a lower-level informational text to read, such as the history of how paper is made. Ask questions that summarize the process of how paper is made.
(5 minutes)
  • Distribute an index card to each student. Write the following question on the board: How and why did John Muir create the Sierra Club?
  • Have students answer the question on an index card, before sharing and comparing their answer to a partner.
  • Invite a few partnerships to share their responses to the question, demonstrating the details in the text that support their answer. Collect the index cards as exit tickets to gauge students' understanding.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students: Why do you think it is important and helpful to be detectives when they read?
  • Have students discuss this question in groups of three or four, before sharing their biggest takeaways in a whole group discussion.

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