EL Support Lesson

Prepositional Phrases as Key Details

Help your ELs familiarize themselves with prepositional phrases as they search for supporting details in nonfiction texts. This lesson could stand alone or be taught prior to teaching the Detective Reading lesson.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Detective Reading lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Detective Reading lesson plan.

Students will be able to identify supporting details and examples in an informational text.


Students will be able to identify prepositional phrases to answer comprehension questions in nonfiction texts using a graphic organizer.

(2 minutes)
  • Ask the class to choral read the language objective for the lesson.
  • Tell students that today they will practice finding supporting details in texts by specifically looking for prepositional phrases.
  • Explain that when they read, it is important to pay attention to the details that give them more information to better understand the text, such as details that describe when or where something happened. Usually these details appear in nonfiction writing in the form of prepositional phrases, or phrases that begin with a preposition.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain to students that excellent readers often use context clues, or the other words and sentences near the unknown word, to help them figure out its meaning.
  • Write the following sentences on the board:
    • My family could not find work in our country. So we immigrated to the United States in hopes of a job and a better life.
  • Underline the Tier 2 word immigrated and model how you think aloud and use context clues to figure out the meaning of immigrated. For example, "Since the family could not find work in their country, they had to travel and move to another country to find work. So immigrated must mean moving to another country to work and live."
  • Repeat the process with another key term, such as preservation. For example, read aloud the following sentences:
    • "The ecosystem in that area is in danger. There are very few native plants and animals left. Mrs. Knowles is working hard with her team to increase the community's preservation efforts."
  • Ask students to work with a partner to use the context clues in this example to discuss the definition of the word preservation. Ask a few students to share their definition and how they came up with it.
  • Distribute copies of the Glossary to students and have them work in partners to complete it, using English or their L1 as support.
  • Review the student-friendly definitions and images of the vocabulary words. Circulate around the room to check for accuracy in the student glossaries and clarify any misunderstandings.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask for three student volunteers to come up to the front of the class to demonstrate the meaning of prepositions.
  • Explain that prepositions and prepositional phrases help us understand where things are and when things happen.
  • Ask student A to stand between student B and C. Then, ask student B to stand behind student C, while student A places their hand on Student C's back. Continue with a few other examples of prepositions to show location. Note: You may also use a stuffed animal and a box to demonstrate prepositions.
  • Write these sentences on the board:
    • On Saturday, her team won the basketball championship.
    • The light bulb was invented in 1878.
  • Explain that propositions also tell us when things happen. Circle the prepositions in the two sentences and emphasize their important role of giving the reader more concrete supporting details to widen our understanding.
  • Hand out the Part 1: Prepositional Phrases in Nonfiction Text worksheet to students and display a copy on the document camera.
  • Read the explanation at the top of the worksheet and the sample prepositions. Mention that many more prepositions exist in English, but for the purpose of today's lesson, we are learning just a few of them.
  • Demonstrate how you identify and circle the prepositions for the first two problems. Then, instruct students to complete the exercise in the rest of this section independently.
  • Explain the second part of the worksheet, in which students must choose from the preposition word bank to fill in the blank. Model one example and assign students into meaningful partnerships for them to complete the activity. Review students' answers.
(8 minutes)
  • Distribute copies of the Part 2: Prepositional Phrases in Nonfiction Text worksheet to students.
  • Have students turn to an elbow partner to restate the definition of a prepositional phrase and provide an example.
  • Read aloud the teaching box on the worksheet and model how to identify the prepositional phrase in the sentences in the first section.
  • Tell students to identify the prepositional phrases in the sentences in this section.
  • Go over the directions and example in the second section. Emphasize the key strategy of referring to the prepositional phrases in the sentences to back up their answer to the comprehension questions. Have students complete the first row in the graphic organizer orally with a partner before completing the table independently.
  • Review student work and address any doubts or questions that arise.


  • Encourage students to refer to their vocabulary cards throughout the lesson as needed. Also, allow ELs to give their answers in their L1.
  • Allow students to complete the assessment with a partner.


  • Instruct students to go on a hunt for prepositional phrases in nonfiction books from the classroom library and record them in their journals.
  • Have students write their own examples of prepositional phrases.
(6 minutes)
  • Hand out a sticky note to each student. Write a simple question on the board, such as, "When does the principal make announcements?"
  • Tell students to write a sentence with a preposition that answers the question. For example, "The principal makes announcements before dismissal." Encourage students to refer to the resources used thorughout the lesson to help them with the assessment.
  • Have students read their answers aloud before collecting the sticky notes to gauge understanding.
(4 minutes)
  • Have students choose one of the following sentence stems to complete orally:
    • "Prepositional phrases help me ____."
    • "Using context clues helps me ____."
  • Give students a minute to think of their response. Have them share their sentence with an elbow partner.
  • Invite a few students to share their sentences with the whole group.

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