Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Shelley Mann
Santa Rosa District Schools


Techniques are used to promote strategic reading and writing. Students are taught to use print variations, key words, section headings, tables of content and chapter titles as a means of organizing non-fiction information and producing end documents.


The student uses text features to predict content and monitor comprehension (for example, glossary, headings, side-headings, sub-headings; paragraphs; print variations such as italics, bold face, underlines).

The student reads and organizes information (for example, in outlines, timelines, graphic organizers) throughout a single source for a variety of purposes (for example, discovering models for own writing, making a report, conducting interviews, taking a test, performing a task).

The student uses a variety of strategies to prepare for writing (for example, brainstorming, making lists, mapping ideas, grouping related ideas, keeping a notebook of ideas, observing surroundings, answering questions posed by others).


-Science textbook
-Chart paper
-Sunday newspaper from a major metropolitan city
-Daily newspaper for each student
-Copies of rubrics from file attachment for scoring.
-Sample graphic organizers from Internet site (as needed). One such site is hot linked later in this lesson.


1. Obtain a Sunday paper from a major metropolitan city.
2. Chart paper
3. Daily newspaper for each student
4. Copy scoring rubrics from file attachment
5. Search Internet site listed for examples of graphic organizers


Day One
1. Open lesson with the Sunday newspaper spread over teacher’s desk. Chat to yourself about there being too much news and being unable to find what’s important. Flap sections of paper around and look generally disgruntled, overwhelmed, and distressed.
2. Appear to be surprised that the students are paying attention. Tell them you are changing the lesson plans. The new plan will help them organize information so that they will not be overwhelmed as you just were.
3. Ask students to take out science textbooks. Using chart paper, record students’ responses to, “What tools are in your textbooks that help you organize information?”
4. Prompt students to include table of contents, chapter titles, section heading, and bold words.
5. Ask students how these tools helped them in learning the information from the previous chapter. Ask students how this information can help them with a chapter they’ve never read before. Work through an unknown chapter of the text in determining if a certain level of knowledge is possible simply from using the organizational tools in the chapter.
6. Model how to prepare a graphic organizer (use samples from Internet as needed) for a chapter in the science text. Ask students to prepare another graphic organizer with a partner from a different chapter in the text. Evaluate with rubric (file attachment).
7. Discuss how textbooks’ organizational tools aid in understanding content.

Day Two
1. Transition from strategic reading skills to using strategic organizational tools in writing. Ask students if they could use the graphic organizer (use samples from Internet as needed) they prepared on Day One to write a paragraph. Model this using your sample graphic organizer from Day One. Students then write a paragraph with a partner from the information on their graphic organizers from Day One. Paragraph is evaluated with rubric (file attachment).
2. Partners share the ease with which they were able to write a paragraph with an organizational tool like a graphic organizer.
3. Lead discussion as to how organizing information is necessary in understanding content.

Day Three
1. Ask students if any of the previously practiced strategies for organizing information from written text would help with reading the newspaper. Use chart paper to record student responses and use these tips to pretend that you are able to race through Day One's newspaper gathering all sorts of relevant information.
2. Handout a daily paper to each student. Ask them to develop organizational strategies (such as, headlines, leads, captions) for picking information that is of interest to them from the paper. Information gathered is documented using a graphic organizer. Use this document for reading assessment (file attachment).

1. The above graphic organizer becomes a prewriting exercise in creating a script for a TV news update. This document is used for writing assessment (file attachment).


Three documents are available for assessment: the graphic organizer from the newspaper, the expository paragraph written from the graphic organizer from the newspaper, and the TV news update script. (The file attachment provides scoring rubrics for all three evaluated documents.) The graphic organizer and paragraph are evaluated for relevance of information selected and accuracy in ranking importance of information selected. The TV news update is evaluated for focus and organization. A process assessment can be taken from the extension with the online activity. This culminating activity is assessed on ability to extract critical information, ability to conceptualize a plan for program content, inclusion of major facts, key details, and elaboration in the final draft, and focus, organization and conventions.


Extend the use of reading strategies by asking students to search an on-line news source and graphically organize topics of regional interest. Extend the use of expository writing strategies by asking students to create a TV news update script from the aforementioned graphic organizer. Modifications for special needs students include; use of word processor, use of tape recorder, extended time to write, peer conferencing.

Web Links

Web supplement for Just the Facts, Ma’am

Web supplement for Just the Facts, Ma’am

Web supplement for Just the Facts, Ma’am

Web supplement for Just the Facts, Ma’am

Web supplement for Just the Facts, Ma’am
The Scoop

Web supplement for Just the Facts, Ma’am
Time for Kids

Web supplement for Just the Facts, Ma’am

Web supplement for Just the Facts, Ma’am
Graphic Organizers

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