Lesson Plan

New Words, New Ideas: Reading Nonfiction

Your students will deepen their understanding and build their vocabulary through reading nonfiction texts and identifying unknown words.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Figuring Out Tricky Words pre-lesson.
View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Figuring Out Tricky Words pre-lesson.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to ask and answer questions to clarify the meaning of unknown words in a nonfiction text.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments


(10 minutes)
New Nonfiction Words OrganizerNew Nonfiction Words BookmarkNew Nonfiction Words Template
  • Gather students on the rug for the start of the lesson.
  • Read students a few pages from National Geographic Kids: Dolphins by Melissa Stewart or a similar nonfiction text.
  • As you read, pause to think aloud. You can say something like, “It seems like this book is about dolphins. This sounds like it might be the main idea, or what the book is about. I wonder what I’ll learn about them. Hmm.”
  • Continue to read, pausing to notice important words, facts, and text features. Pause to write any potentially unknown words on the whiteboard or chart paper.
  • Explain that sometimes unknown words in books can confuse readers. Good readers ask questions to clear up confusion about what they are reading. Think aloud, "What does the word ________ mean?"
  • Read the list of new (potentially unknown words) aloud. Ask your students to think about these words and how they might help us learn what the book was about.
  • Have students share out with the class.
  • Explain that one way that nonfiction authors teach us about their topic is by including special words called vocabulary words. These words are often highlighted, bolded, and include pictures next to them.
  • Say, “Today we will practice asking questions about what different words mean. We will figure out the meaning of these vocabulary words to help us learn more about the topic."


  • Activate background knowledge by reminding students what a nonfiction book is.
  • Model how to determine the meaning of unknown words using pictures.
  • Have students define nonfiction in home languguage (L1).


  • Model how to determine the meaning of an unknown word using context clues and the structure of the text.