Write a Report: Exploring Informational Writing Project-Based Learning Unit

Write a Report: Exploring Informational Writing Project-Based Learning Unit
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A Complete Standards-Aligned Unit on Writing Research Essays - Perfect as a Capstone

Build pre-writing background knowledge of a topic (endangered animals), learn how to structure and write a 5-paragraph essay, master the review/edit/revise process, write an effective letter, and publish and share a research report on an endangered animal!

Your 3rd grade students will combine research and writing skills in this ELA project-based learning unit. They'll do topical research on endangered animals,  outline, write, edit, and revise a 5-paragraph essay, and "show what they know" by publishing and sharing their final research reports. They will also learn how to write an effective letter and design a poster to educate others about endangered animals.

What's Inside

Packed with hands-on inquiry-based activities, extensions and enhancements, cross-curricular independent and group work, and engaging and interactive challenges, this 55-page project-based unit comes complete with:

  • For the Teacher: A complete Informational Writing Lesson Plan with step-by-step instructions for all activities, teaching tips, assessment guidance, and inquiry questions.
  • For Students: A full-color Student Pack complete with all of the printables, slides, photos, and instructions students need for the research, experiments and activities - just print (or share) and teach!

A complete, ready-to-teach Teacher Pack that includes:

  1. Teacher versions of all the student printables with step-by-step annotations and notes for teaching informational writing;
  2. Formative and summative assessments, answer keys, and a full project rubric;
  3. Instructions and guidance for the extension activities and project enhancements;
  4. Materials and resources lists, links to articles, videos, and research, plus additional resources for lecture and presentation.

What's Included

Lesson Plan - Step-by-Step Project Teaching Guide

  • Milestone 1: Building Background Knowledge and Topical Research
  • Milestone 2: Writing a Research Report
  • Milestone 3: Revising, Editing, and Publishing
  • Milestone 4: Presenting the Research Report
  • Milestone 5: Writing an Effective Letter

Teacher and Student Resources

  • Materials List - Materials Needed for the Projects in this Unit
  • Books About Endangered Animals (optional)
  • Endangered Animals Video Review Activity and Answer Key
  • How to Do Good Research Mini-Lesson Handout
  • Exploring Informational Writing Project Guidelines Handout
  • Animal Topic Research Guide Sample Template
  • Animal Topic Research Guide Handout
  • Milestone #1 Inquiry Question Writing Prompt Worksheet
  • Animal Appearance Paragraph Structure Sample Template
  • Animal Appearance Paragraph Writing Handout
  • Animal Habitat Paragraph Writing Handout
  • Animal Diet Paragraph Writing Handout
  • Animal Endangered Status Paragraph Writing Handout
  • Sample Introduction and Conclusion Paragraphs Handout
  • Introduction and Conclusion Paragraph Writing Handout
  • Milestone #2 Inquiry Question Writing Prompt Worksheet
  • Amur Leopard Habitat Paragraph Writing Activity and Answer Key
  • Revising and Editing Checklist Handout
  • Milestone #3 Inquiry Question Writing Prompt Handout
  • Informational Writing Quick Quiz and Answer Key
  • Animal Fact Collector Graphic Organizer
  • Milestone #4 Inquiry Question Writing Prompt Worksheet
  • The Parts of a Letter Handout
  • Writing a Letter Activity Handout
  • Milestone #5 Inquiry Question Writing Prompt Worksheet
  • Mini-Lesson on Giving Effective Oral Presentations
  • Informational Writing Summative Assessment and Answer Key
  • Exploring Informational Writing Project Grading Rubric
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 Lesson Plan - Exploring Informational Writing Project-Based Learning Lesson
Teacher Pack - Exploring Informational Writing Project-Based Learning Lesson
Student Pack - Exploring Informational Writing Project-Based Learning Lesson


This project-based learning lesson is designed to support and reinforce the concepts taught as part of an ELA lesson or unit on informational writing. It is built around 5 inquiry-based milestones that incorporate cross-curricular hands-on projects, formative and summative assessments, independent and group activities, and extensions.


In the course of this project-based learning unit, students will:

  • Build background knowledge about and do topic research on endangered animals;
  • Write a 5-paragraph essay on the endangered animal they researched;
  • Review, revise, edit, and publish their 5-paragraph research report;
  • Write a letter and create a poster describing their endangered animal and why it should be protected.


Students will acquire necessary background knowledge of informational writing as part of this project, and instructional materials for providing that background are included in the Teacher Pack. 


This project-based unit is divided into 5 milestones. The minimum suggested duration for completing this project-based unit is 5 class periods. However, the unit is completely flexible can be lengthened or shortened as necessary or desired, based on available class time and interest level.


  • Internet access


These activities support the following Common Core State Standards for 3rd grade

• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.7 - Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.8 - Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2.A - Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aid in comprehension.
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2.B - Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2.D - Provide a concluding statement or section.
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.5 - With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.6 - With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.3.2 - Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.3 - Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.4 - Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.10 - Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

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