Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Keeping an "I" Out for the Answers

Ann Pearson


Students use an I-Chart to locate and gather information from several sources.


The student locates, gathers, analyzes, and evaluates written information for a variety of purposes, including research projects, real-world tasks, and self-improvement.


-Overhead projector or poster board
-Transparency with the I-Chart on it or Poster board with the I-Chart on it.
-Teacher generated list of topics for student research.
-A variety of resources (including reference books, textbooks, magazines, newspapers, etc.) that contain information on the topic the teacher chose to introduce the lesson.


1. Divide class into groups.
2. Download the I-Chart from the Associated File.
3. Make a copy of the I-Chart for each individual student and one for each group.
4. Create a list of inquiry topics for students.
5. Reserve time in the media center for student research.


1. Arrange students into cooperative groups. Tell students in each group to choose a writer for their group.

2. Select a topic that is interesting to students. Students must have some prior knowledge of this topic but still have questions about it. Next have the class brainstorm questions about the topic that they want answered. Ask students, “What three or four questions would you really like to see answered?”

3. On the overhead projector or on poster board, introduce the Inquiry Chart. Tell students an I-Chart is used to organize information when researching a topic. The top line of the inquiry chart is used to list questions that students have generated. Record the questions the students have chosen in the boxes along the top.

4. Ask students what information they already know about the topic. List this information on the whiteboard or overhead projector.

5. Identify the “What do I (we) already know?” section of the I-chart. Tell student this is where there prior knowledge of the topic is placed.

6. Ask students if any of the information they have listed may be the answer to some of their questions. Then organize, with students’ input, the students’ answers under the appropriate questions in the row labeled “What do I (we) already know.” NOTE: Students may know information about the topic that is not an answer to any of their questions. These topics may be placed under the heading “other interesting facts.”

7. Give each group an I-Chart. Tell the writers to fill in the information from the class’s I-Chart onto their group’s chart.

8. Point out the first column of the I-Chart where sources are identified. Tell students, “This is where your sources are listed.”

9. Assign each group a resource to locate and gather answers to the questions developed in class.

10. Tell the writers of each group to gather the information located by their group members and list on their I-Chart. The questions developed in class serve to guide students as they decide which material in a source is useful and which is not pertinent. When students gather the information into the I-Chart, they will be able to see which questions are not answered and which questions are adequately answered.

11. As groups finish, group writers fill in their group’s information on the class’s I-Chart.

12. As a class, discuss all information. Students may discover that information located in their sources is contradictory. Address any contradictory information. Use this discussion to answer any questions the students have on the I-chart.

13. Finally, give students a copy of the inquiry topics you have created. Instruct the students that they are to choose a topic by tomorrow.

14. Locating and gathering will take place in the media center tomorrow. Use the I-chart completed in the media center to formatively assess students. (See Assessment.)


Use the I-chart completed in the media center to:
1. Formatively assess the group’s ability to locate information by checking their four sources on the I-Chart.
2. Formatively assess the group’s ability to gather information by checking the answers to their questions on the I-chart.


1. Add another row to the Inquiry Chart called “Summary.” Summarize each of your columns.
2. Use their information to create a product (research paper, brochure, power point presentation, etc.).
3. Use the I-Chart in other classes that require research.

Attached Files

The I Chart.     File Extension: pdf

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