K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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  • Reading guides: Groups will develop a Reading Guide for each non-fiction resource book for units in science, social studies, and other curriculum areas. Students will identify useful features each book and where the important information will be found. Reviewing non-fiction features of print resources will familiarize the class with material on reserve for the unit. Overviewing and identifying text features will help students determine how to approach the various formats of text relevant to the topic.
  • Sticky-note discussions: Sticky-notes discussions are fun, add variety to reading, and allow students to respond to the written text immediately. They are easy to implement in all content areas. Sticky-note discussions are effective when used individually, in a small or large group, or a combination of settings.
  • Literature biography project: Students will learn to develop the various processes used in researching and writing a biographical research paper, including brainstorming, note taking, outlining, creating a bibliography, and writing the final draft.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • identify important supporting information.
  • elaborate on information in order to draw connections for readers.
  • compose well-supported paragraphs.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1-2 Hours


Technology resources

Overhead projector or document camera


Mini-lesson on plagiarism and how to avoid it. Give students the handout 2×4 card. Discuss with students.



  1. Explain to students that they will be learning to distinguish between facts with documented sources, which are found outside themselves, and the author’s interpretation of the facts, which comes from within the author. Explain that good informational writers don’t just provide facts, they also interpret those facts for their readers. Tell students that this method is an effective way to compose any essay or report because it helps the writer distinguish between details (facts) and elaboration (interpretations, generalizations, conclusions, etc.). It also prevents students from listing facts without adequate interpretation.
  2. Project three columns on the board. Label the first column “Fact,” the second column “Source,” and the third column, “Interpretation.” In the first column, “Fact,” write the statement, “It is 60 degrees F.” Tell students that this is a fact that can be verified. In the second column, “Source,” write down the source of the fact, “according to the National Weather Service thermometer at the Raleigh-Durham International airport.” Then in the third column, write down your interpretation of the fact, “It is warm outside.” Tell students that another person may interpret this fact to mean, “It is cold outside.”
  3. Pass out a nonfiction article of your choosing to students. A good source of informational articles are government websites. This article on “Cigarettes and Other Nicotine Products” is available at the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.
  4. Read the passage aloud as a class. Ask students to come up with three relevant facts from the article.
  5. Make three columns on the board. Write down the three pieces of information in the first column. For example, “In 1998, 60 million Americans were current cigarette smokers (28 percent of all Americans aged 12 and older).”
  6. Next, go through each of the three facts and have students find the source that the author cites for each fact and write the source in the second column, “Source.” In this case, the author does not cite the source of this fact, so put a question mark in the second column.
  7. Write the author’s interpretation of the fact in the third column. (If you would like, draw an arrow from the fact in the first column to the corresponding interpretation in the third column.) For the first fact, the author’s interpretation is that “Nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the United States.”
  8. Repeat the above process for the remaining two facts, finding the source cited by the author and the author’s interpretation of the fact. Ask students which information needs to be documented (is a direct idea from the article) - the facts, and which information is generated by the writer - interpretation.

Guided Practice

  1. Using another informational article, have students find three facts about one of the drugs from the NIDA InfoFacts: Science-Based Facts on Drug Abuse and Addiction list and then complete the three column chart, this time providing their own interpretation of the facts they found (in column 3). Demonstrate for students how to combine the facts with their own interpretations to form a synthesized paragraph about the drug.
  2. Have students generate possible paragraphs based on the information.
  3. Share.

Independent Practice

  1. Give students a nonfiction article.
  2. Pass out a Synthesis note sheet (which gives directions for the students) and a Blank note sheet to each student.
  3. Have students read their article and take down notes independently. (Be sure to remind students to stay on one topic.)
  4. Then students form their own conclusions from their notes and create their own paragraph.


  1. Students can volunteer to read their paragraphs aloud and have the class discuss which information should be documented.
  2. Remind students that this method is an effective way to compose any essay or report because it helps the writer distinguish between facts and interpretations (generalizations, conclusions, etc.). It also prevents students from listing facts without adequate interpretation.


Read student paragraphs to determine if they included the following:

  • facts pertaining to one topic.
  • comments/elaboration to explain details.
  • appropriate documentation when necessary.

Supplemental information


After students become familiar with this format, it can be used for longer essays/papers.

You could also use the worksheet to write a literary analysis by using the first column for examples supporting a topic and the second column as interpretation of the examples.

This lesson was created as part of the NCDPI Writing Lessons for Writing Features Workshop. (Support and Elaboration)

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Writing

        • Grade 11-12
          • 11-12.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the...
        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain...

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Information and Technology Skills (2010)
      • Grades 9 - 12

        • HS.SE.1 Analyze issues and practices of responsible behavior when using resources. HS.SE.1.1 Analyze ethical issues and practices related to copyright, not plagiarizing, and netiquette. HS.SE.1.2 Analyze safety issues and practices when using online resources...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 10

  • Goal 4: The learner will critically interpret and evaluate experiences, literature, language, and ideas.
    • Objective 4.01: Interpret a real-world event in a way that:
      • makes generalizations about the event supported by specific references.
      • reflects on observation and shows how the event affected the current viewpoint.
      • distinguishes fact from fiction and recognizes personal bias.

Information Skills (2000)

Grade 9–12

  • Goal 1: The learner will EXPLORE sources and formats for reading, listening, and viewing purposes.
    • Objective 1.07: Follow acceptable use policy (AUP/IUP) for electronic resources.
    • Objective 1.08: Select and use independently, both within and outside the school, a variety of resources (print, non-print, electronic) and formats (print, graphical, audio, video, multimedia).
  • Goal 2: The learner will IDENTIFY and USE criteria for excellence to evaluate information and formats.
    • Objective 2.05: Determine accuracy, relevance, and comprehensiveness of information resources.
  • Goal 4: The learner will EXPLORE and USE research processes to meet information needs.
    • Objective 4.06: Comply with the Copyright Law (P. L. 94-553).
    • Objective 4.07: Organize and use information.