Prepare to Read Nonfiction
Using a KWL Chart, students build background knowledge and learn key vocabulary in preparation for reading nonfiction text.
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
- Unit Plan:
This lesson will provide students with a strong foundation for reading, writing, and using nonfiction.
- Get an introduction to using KWL Charts as tools for reading nonfiction
- Become familiar with unfamiliar words
- Share what they already know about the topic of the nonfiction selection and use this knowledge to help prepare to read
Set Up and Prepare
Before class begins, review the article on pages 2–3 of the Stopping a Toppling Tower (PDF) for words your students may not know or understand. You will discuss the chosen words in Part II of this lesson.
Step 1: Tell students that they will be reading about the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Give them time to think about whether they've heard of it and what they know about it.
Step 2: While students are thinking, distribute copies of the KWL Chart (PDF).
Step 3: Ask students to tell you what they already know about the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Ask questions to guide the discussion so that students share what they know about where the tower is located, why it's famous, and what the problems are with the tower. As you discuss the facts, have students write them down in the “What do I Know?” column of the chart.
Step 4: Identify any misconceptions or gaps in students' knowledge. Provide any additional background on the tower that they will need to comprehend the article “Stopping a Toppling Tower.” Have students add this information to the “What Do I Know?” column.
Step 5: Ask students whether discussing the tower has raised questions. Is there anything that they don't know about the tower that they'd like to find out? Have them list these questions in the “What do I Want to Find Out?” column. Student should put the chart to the side. They will complete the “What Did I Learn?” column after they've read the selection.
Step 1: Preteach key vocabulary from "Stopping a Toppling Tower." First, select about four words from the text that students may need to review.
Example: tilt, engineers, landmark
Step 2: Write each word on the chart paper. Have students rate for themselves whether they know what it means, have heard it before but aren't sure they know what it means, or have never seen or heard it. Ask students to share what they know about each word.
Step 3: Pronounce each word, define it, and give an example sentence.
Example: Tilt means to lean to one side. If I tilt my chair back, it may fall.
Step 4: Point out synonyms or antonyms and unusual meanings.
Example: Explain that “straight” is an antonym of “tilted,” and that the word “engineers” can refer to people with very different types of jobs; describe the meaning that will be used in "Stopping a Toppling Tower."