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Learning Experience/Unit

Reading Online Informational Text by St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES


English Language Arts (2005), English Language Arts (NYS P-12 Common Core)

Grade Levels

Intermediate, 6th Grade


The rubric for this lesson is below. The rubric for all three articles discussed in the lesson is the same.

Learning Context/ Introduction

This is part of a unit addressing the skill of reading non-fiction and informational texts both in print and online. I have started with a focus on reading textbooks in social studies and science. Mid-way through the unit, I make a transition to "everyday, real world" reading. The sections of an article have been taught. By the end of the unit, the students will be able to identify the sections, explain the importance of each and demonstrate how they would use them.


informational text, title, author, heading, captions, graphics


Three 40-minute lessons

Essential Question

Why is it important to understand how to read and interact with informational text both in print and online?

Instructional/Environment Modifications

This is a small group of 6th Grade students in a remedial reading classroom. The class consists of two separate sections of four students in each. The reading levels of each student are significantly below grade level, ranging from one to three years below.


  • The students are each given a laptop computer to use in the classroom. With the teacher's assistance, they are directed to a website with grade appropriate non-fiction passages.
  • Each student will be reading the same article, allowing for discussions and questions to be answered as the lesson progresses. The articles used can be found on  www.scholastic.com. www.newsELA.com www.timeforkids.com or another site of choice. This site has articles for all different areas of interest that are at an appropriate level of readability for students of this age. I often direct students there when they need to find an article for a current events project.

The following is a breakdown of the lessons for each day and the progression that students will be making.

Day One:

  1. Students are given an overview of what will be done throughout the lesson. There is a review of the types of informational text we read on regular basis.
  2. Students complete a word splash on the board including those different types of readings.
  3. Teacher explains that the lessons to come will be focusing on online reading of newspaper and magazine articles. The students then explain why they think it might be important to know how to read articles online.
  4. The students are then directed to their laptops where a specific article is located. The class talks about identifying the different sections of an article (title, author, headings, captions, pictures, diagrams, etc.). Throughout this unit, students are continually reviewing the types of sections in a non-fiction article. This is also something which is taught in Social Studies class as they read their textbook.
  5. As a whole group activity, we made a list of the sections on the board.
  6. Also throughout the lesson, there is a constant review of what the titles of the sections are and the importance of them. They are then told to scan the article looking for and identifying those parts.
  7. Once this is done, they are shown the buttons on the side of the article which will engage them in their reading by asking them questions that they will respond to orally as reading the articles.
  8. As a class, the article is read, orally answering the questions and interacting with the text.

Day Two:

  1. The students will again log on to a specific site's article.
  2. The students are then asked what should be the first thing they do when looking at an article of this type. They should all know that they are to scan the article looking at the different sections to get an idea of what the article is about.
  3. Each student has a graphic organizer to fill out while scanning the article identifying each section.
  4. After scanning the article and completing the graphic organizer, they class begins reading the article together. As reading they will click on the buttons at ta specific article (teacher assigned.) Students answer questions created by teacher OR from the site. (These questions have all been typed up on a separate handout for each student so the teacher can have a hard copy of each student’s work. 

Day Three:

Again the students login to the website and are reminded where they need to go to find the article for the lesson. They are given a blank copy of the graphic organizer which is identical to the one they used in the previous lesson. The students will be reading another eacher assigned article independently. They are to accurately complete the graphic organizer and answer the questions which are provided on the website. Again they have a hard copy of these questions to turn into the teacher.

Throughout the final day of this section of the unit, the teacher will be available to answer questions for the students, but the student is responsible for completing the assignment independently.

Reflections and Feedback

The lesson went very well when it was taught. The students were very responsive to using the laptops since they do not get very many opportunities to use them. It took them a little while to get used to reading the articles off of the computer screen, but once they read the first page they made a smooth transition. They liked the idea of being able to interact with their reading. There were buttons in the margins of the article and the necessary vocabulary for each article was highlighted in blue, allowing them to click on it to access an age-appropriate definition.

The unit is revisited throughout the school year. Students are required to do current events for social studies and can do extra credit for science by looking for a science related current event article. After more practice at reading the articles online, the students are expected to find articles on their own and use the strategies learned in this lesson/unit to write a summary of the article they have chosen. The articles that they choose for either of these assignments are to be found through either on an online news source or the print media. I encourage students to look online for their articles explaining that this may soon be the only place to find them and that there is often much more to choose from.

As the lesson progresses, I also give the students the opportunity to choose the graphic organizers that they use. They are introduced to many different types in other classes and I try to encourage them to use their own, explaining that we don't all organize our thoughts in the same way. Once they get used to the idea, they seem to like the independence that is given to them in this activity.

I am constantly looking for new sites online that provide grade appropriate readings for my students. Most of them don't like to read, so I need to find articles that peak their interest. One of my favorite sites, which I mentioned above, is www.scholastic.com. Since many schools do not subscribe to the paper version of Scholastic News, I find this to be a perfect place to find grade-appropriate articles for my students, and most of them can be accessed for free.

I enjoyed this lesson and it was great to see the students have a positive reading experience. Reading is something that most of them do not like since it is difficult for them. I also used this lesson for an observation I had with my district superintendent. There was very positive feedback on how the students responded. It is definitely a lesson that I will use in the future.

Student Work

Student work samples are below.  These are aligned with the texts used, which were from a publisher's site.  These are examples only.

Related Resource

  • Informational articles from specific sites
  • Laptops
  • Internet resources
  • Graphic organizers and worksheets from site or made by teacher

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