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
Grades
3
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TYPE
 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

OVERVIEW:

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.

STUDENT/GROUP OUTPUT:

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.

SUGGESTED SUBJECT PREREQUISITES:

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. 

SEQUENCE AND PACING:

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.

TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES (suggested):

  • Internet access

STANDARDS ALIGNMENT:

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

MILESTONE #1
• 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.
MILESTONE #2
• 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.
MILESTONE #3
• 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.
MILESTONE #4
• 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.
MILESTONE #5
• 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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