Lesson plan

Determining Importance

Is that fact important, or is it just interesting? Use this lesson to help your students determine importance in nonfiction text.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Repeated Words and Phrases pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Repeated Words and Phrases pre-lesson.

Students will be able to pick out important information in a nonfiction text.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(3 minutes)
  • Ask students to think about how the experience of reading fiction and nonfiction texts is different. Have them discuss with a partner before having a class discussion.
  • Share that fiction reading is often a simple process because readers are able to begin reading and the story unfolds. With nonfiction, a reader should look at all the extra things on the page that add information. Text features are things that give more information about a topic like, illustrations, captions, headings, bold words, maps, charts, and timelines. These features clue the reader into the important information that the author wants us to learn.
  • Explain to students that nonfiction texts are also called informational, which means they give information to the reader. An author can provide a lot of information, but it is up to the reader to determine, or decide, which information is the most important for learning. Important information has the greatest meaning or value. It requires the most attention. We can’t possibly remember everything in an informational text, but we can remember the most important information.
  • Review the learning objective for the lesson and have students repeat it aloud.
(15 minutes)
  • Display a copy of the Reading Strategies: Determining Importance worksheet on the document camera, and explain the purpose of the graphic organizer.
  • Explain that you will scan (to look at something for a short time) and skim (to look through something quickly) a piece of nonfiction text to see the information that stands out before reading it. This gives an idea about what information the author wants you to know.
  • Display and distribute a copy of the first page of the worksheet Nonfiction Text Features: Wild, Wild Weather, and point out the images, captions, headings, and map. Jot down some ideas about this information on the board or a separate piece of paper.
  • Read aloud the first section of the worksheet, and think aloud about the facts that were learned. Underline them.
  • Point out that some underlined information in the text is important, while some is just interesting. Interesting information catches your attention and makes you want to learn more about it, but it is not always the most important to learn.
  • Think aloud about which information should be categorized as important. Ask yourself, “What does the author want me to learn?” and “What important ideas have I learned?” Record that information, and then complete the second column by explaining why you believe the information is important.
(15 minutes)
  • Put students into small groups and read aloud the second section of the worksheet Nonfiction Text Features: Wild, Wild Weather.
  • Instruct groups to underline new learning in the text. Have them discuss whether the underlined text is important or interesting.
  • Distribute a copy of the Reading Strategies: Determining Importance worksheet. Ask the groups to complete two rows of the graphic organizer with information from the text.
  • Engage the class in a discussion about which information they determine is important, rather than interesting.
(15 minutes)
  • Have students read the final section of the Nonfiction Text Features: Wild, Wild Weather worksheet on their own and complete two rows of the Reading Strategies: Determining Importance graphic organizer.


  • Pair struggling students with more advanced, supportive students during the Guided Practice portion of the lesson.
  • Provide a simplified version of the text for the Independent Practice portion of the lesson.


  • Ask advanced learners to determine the most important information from a larger, more complex informational text. Have them directly cite the text using quotations, and instruct them to use evidence-based terms in their explanations. (For example, “According to the text…” and “The author states…”)
(10 minutes)
  • Give each student a Concept Web graphic organizer and have them put the term Determining Importance in the center. Instruct them to complete the Concept Web with strategies and things to remember when determining importance in a nonfiction text.
(2 minutes)
  • Ask learners to share their information from the Concept Web about determining importance in a nonfiction text. While students share, create an anchor chart with the information.
  • Remind the class that readers should focus on the most important information in a text because there is no way that we can remember all the details, even though they might be interesting. Encourage them to practice determining importance while they read fiction and nonfiction, and even while they have conversations, watch television, or go about their daily routines.

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