Holly McRae
Elementary English Language Arts, Media and Communications
Material Type:
Lesson Plan, Unit of Study
Upper Elementary
  • Informational Writing
  • Lesson Plan
  • Library Media
  • photography
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Media Formats:
    Graphics/Photos, Interactive, Text/HTML

    Education Standards

    Informational Website: As Easy as 1, 2, 3...

    Informational Website: As Easy as 1, 2, 3...


    This unit walks students through the research process from pre-writing to publishing using cars as the topic, but it could be adapted for any basic research subject. The final project allows them to publish to the world creating an Adobe Express web page.

    Diagram of an Internal Combustion Piston Engine, By User:Wapcaplet - Own work, made with Blender, CC BY-SA 3.0,

    A modern assembly-line, By Marek Slusarczyk, CC BY 3.0,


    This lesson guides students through the informational writinging process from the pre-writing exploration of a subject to finished webpage. Instruction will be modeled and project completed using informational text, websites, and images. The research subject that I have chosen, Automotive Technology (CARS), can be changed to any desired subject. 

    • Three 30-60 minute sessions. 
      • Part One: Utah Core Standards for Library Media: Strand 4, Standard 1 and 2 
      • Part Two: Utah Core Standards for Library Media: Strand 5, Standard 1 and 2, Strand 6, Standard 1 and 2. Strand 7, Standard 2c
      • Part Three: Utah Core Standards for Library Media, Strand 7, Standard 1a, Strand 8, Standard 1 and  2.
    • Format: Synchronous
    • Grade Level 4-6


    Background for Teachers

    Part One:

    To teach part one, you will need an understanding of the "Reading and Analyzing Nonfiction Strategy" developed by Tony Stead.  An explaination can be found in this article: "Nurturning the Inquiring Mind Through the Non-Fiction Read-Aloud" at This strategy can be applied to any informational topci that you chose.

    Part Two:

    To teach part two, you will need an understanding of how to use a search engine, how to locate public domain and  creative commons licenses, and what the different creative commons designations stand for. The following resources will be helpful:

    Literacy Planet: "8 ways to help children find information in a search engine." by Angela Smith, 9/23/21 

    TIP: If you want to end up with kid friendly articles and videos, start your search with the word: "kids".

    "About the Licenses: What our licenses do" by Creative Commons

    "Public Domain: Finding Public Domain Images", by University of Texas Libraries

    Part Three: 

    To teach part three, you will need an understanding of how to use Adobe Express to create a Webpage.  The following tutorial is pretty helpful, though it was created before Adobe Spark became Adobe Express.  The prinicples are the same.  When you log into Adobe Express you can either select the presentation template or the learning journal template to create a webpage with a "glideshow". 

    Youtube Tutorial: "Trip Report | Digidom Spark Series" by Adobe for Education.  8/14/2020


    Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes

    Step 1 Goals and Outcomes


    Part 1

    Learning Intentions

    • Students will be able to reflect on prior knowledge, apply it to a new information problem, and determine information needed.

    • Students will be able to narrow the topic to focus on discovery questions and generate appropriate keyword search terms.


    Success Criteria

    • Students will list what they know about a given topic, participate in a nonfiction read aloud, confirm or adjust prior knowledge, and generate essential questions about the topic.

    • Students will choose two facts they already know to include in their presentation.

    • From the essential questions generated as a class, students will choose three questions that they want to research, and identify keyword search terms. 


    Part 2

    Learning Intentions

    • Students will be able to locate, evaluate, and select information from a variety of sources both primary and secondary.

    • Students will be able to paraphrase and summarize content.

    • Students will be able to gather appropriate attribution information and understand licensing requirements for images, websites, and videos.


    Success Criteria

    • Students will find and record, summarize, or paraphrase answers to their three questions.

    • Students will find, select, and download (or save the links to) seven images from the internet. One cover/title page image, two images to go with the facts they already know, three images to go with their three questions, and one for the bibliography.

    • Students will cite and record attribution for websites, videos, and images.


    Part 3

    Learning Intentions

    • Students will be able to organize, synthesize and present the information they have collected from multiple sources.

    • Students will be able to cite their sources appropriately and avoid copyright violations.

    • Students will be able to collaborate and peer edit before sharing their presentations with the class.


    Success Criteria

    • Students will use Adobe Express to create a webpage “glide-show” presentation which will follow the 1, 2, 3 pattern.  One cover page, two pages presenting things they already knew, and three pages focused on research questions they answered.

    • Students will include attribution in a bibliography slide at the end.

    • Students will present the completed project to the class. (This may be done at a different time than the final lesson).  Completed projects may also be published and linked to the class website.

    Step 2 - Planning Instruction

    Step 2 Planning Instruction

    Student Background Knowledge

    Using informational literature and studying non-fiction topics can be exciting for elementary students because they bring their background knowledge with them.  You should model and select topics with which the students already have some background knowledge. I am using Automotive Technology (Cars) in this lesson because it is something all students have some experience with, but is a topic that the students can dive deeper into. 

    Prior to this lesson students should also have basic computer usage skills…how to log in, how to move the cursor around, and how to access the internet.  The student should also have basic keyboarding skills.


    Strategies for Diverse Learners

    You could pair the students up to work together if you have students who need extra help. Students could also just create a photo presentation if language/writing skills call for that accommodation.  You could provide a preselected list of links to appropriate photographs to complete the assignment.  For ESL students, the project could be written in their native language and the student could be taught how to use google translate.  

    Step 3 - Instruction

    Step 3 Instruction

    Part One (60 Min)



    Project the RAN chart on the board and pass out post-it notes and pencils to each student.  Ask them to write down two things they know about cars.  Encourage them to try to think of something that might be unique that someone else might not write down.

    Have the students share what they have written and come up and stick their post-it note facts on the board in the “What I Know” Column. (5-10 MIn)


    Non-Fiction Read-Aloud: Car Science: An Under-the Hood, Behind-the-Dash Look at How Cars Work, by Richard Hammond

    Plan on about 10-15 minutes in the book.  Do not read cover to cover, instead do a book tour pointing out title, text features such as table of contents, graphs, images, headings, subheadings, glossary, and index.  Then read some of the content that you have pre-selected, moving around and through the book, modeling that non-fiction reading doesn’t have to be linear. Choose to read some things that the students may have already known and some things that will probably be new to them.  (10-15 Min)


    Non-Fiction Independent Reading:

    Pass out additional non-fiction books about cars, and have the students pair-up and explore the books. Encourage each team to find two new facts that they can write on their post-it note and share with the class. (10 Min)



    Have the students share and place their post-it notes in the “Exciting New Information Column.”

    Based on both reading experiences, now review the “What I Know” Column. Have the students move their post-it notes from that column into the “Confirmed” or “We Don’t Think That Anymore” columns.  

    Say: We have a lot of new information about cars that we have added to what we knew in the first place. As we start learning more about cars, that can lead us to wonder and ask questions to deepen our understanding. Let’s make a list of things we wonder about cars. 

    Point out the “Wonder” column of the chart.  Wonder questions start with: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How, Do/Does, Are.  Have each student write two wonder questions about cars. Have them share their questions with the class and post them on the board next to the appropriate starting word (who, what, where…).

    Say: Did someone else’s question make you think of even more questions?  Non-Fiction writers are detectives. They ask lots of questions and then go looking for the answers.  They take what they learn and publish it in an organized way for others to read. It’s time for you to become a detective.  (10-15 Min)


    Assignment: Google Slides Student Interactive Notebook: Informational Website: As Easy as 1, 2, 3: Facts, Questions, and Keywords 

    Say: On the Facts, Questions, and Keywords page, write down two facts that you already know.  They could be the facts you wrote on your post-it note at the beginning of class, or they could include some of the exciting new facts that we learned today.  Choose facts that you could write 2-3 sentences about.  Next, write down three questions about cars that you want to find out the answers to.  They can be questions that you came up with or they can be inspired by questions that your classmates came up with. (5-10 Min)


    Identify Keywords to Find Answers:

    Say: Today’s detectives use the internet to find answers to their questions, so knowing how to search the internet is important.  You have to find the right KEYWORDS to use in your search.  They need to be specific enough to get you to the information that you are looking for.  

    Go to Google Search to model this for your students.

    Say: If my question was “How do Hybrid Engines Work?”,  and I used the search term “cars”, am I guaranteed to get information on Hybrid Engines?

    Show the class what happens when you search “cars”.  Ask what key terms would be better.  Cars Hybrid Engine Work.  Show Google search suggestions: “hybrid car engine explained” select that and show search results…point out images, videos, as well as websites.  

    Emphasize that by using the main words or ideas in your question you can get better search results.

    Have a few students share one of their questions.  As a class, discuss and try out keywords on google search.

    Independently: Have students highlight or underline two to three keywords in their questions that would work for a google search. (10 min)

    Formative Assessment: Review the student google slide interactive notebooks for understanding before proceeding to part two.  


    Part Two (60 Min)


    • Google Slides Student Interactive Notebook: Informational Website: As Easy as 1, 2, 3 

    • Chromebooks for Each Student or Student Team/Partnership


    Writing Warm Up: 

    Have the students open their Interactive Notebook and click the “more" button next to their first fact.  Model: On the new page, write the fact: “Cars Have Wheels.” and write 2-3 more sentences that go with that fact. 

    “You may think that the rubber part that rolls along the road is a car’s wheels, but it isn’t.  Rubber tires surround the wheel which is actually made of metal.  The rubber tires help the wheels grip the road providing traction so that you don’t slide all over the place.”

    Have your students write down their first fact and 2-3 sentences that go with that fact.

    Have them repeat for the second fact. (10-15 Min.)


    Image Selection/Attribution:

    Show them how to find an image to go with each fact.

    Ask: What keywords could I use to find an image to go with my first fact? Remember keywords need to be specific enough to get me to the information that I need.  Let’s try “image car tires”.  Next click the button that says “Images.”  There are a lot of images of tires for sale and a lot of images that I can’t use because they have a copyright.  I want an image that I know I have permission to use. Click “Tools” and then click “Usage Rights.”  In the drop down menu click “Creative Commons licenses.”  

    Now I can select an image that works with my fact: I chose this image:

    Before I download the image, I make sure to record the necessary attribution information.  Look at the license information: CC0-Public Domain. In this case I don’t have to attribute the author, but I would still like to give credit.  It’s always good to give credit if you can.  

    Model the collection of attribution data: REMEMBER: WHO, WHAT, WHERE  You need to give the name of the photographer (who), the title of the photograph (what), and a link to the photograph (where).  I also include the kind of license.  

    Once I have copied that into my notebook (select, control c, click the textbox, control v), I can download the photo and then upload it into my notebook.  (Click the download button, go to notebook and click the image area, select upload from my computer, go to the download folder and select the image).  Now we have an image and the correct attribution data to go with it.

    Whole class together: Find an image to go with FACT 1. Determine correct keywords, Choose Image, Tools, Usage Rights, Creative Commons.  

    Another way to find a usable image is to go to Wikipedia (for younger grades I might ONLY use this). Search again using your keyword “tires” and open up an appropriate article.  The images in wikipedia articles all have either a Public Domain or Creative Commons License.  They even show you how to give proper attribution.  I like this image:

    Before I download an image, I make sure to record the necessary attribution information.  Look at the license information: CC0-Public Domain. In this case I don’t have to attribute the author, but I would still like to give credit.  Don’t forget the title of the picture.  Show them where to find the tile on the lower left below the photograph.  (Select title, control C, Click in attribution box in notebook, control v).  Then click “you can attribute the author” and when it opens up just click the copy button, click in attribution box in notebook, control v).

    Have the students use wikipedia to download and upload an image and save attribution to go with their FACT 2. (10-15 min)


    Search for Information and Images for their Three Questions:

    Now it’s time to find information and images for your three questions.  Click the “More Box” next to Question 1. 

    Copy and paste the question "How does a Hybrid Motor Work?" into the text box. Search using the key words “hybrid car engine explained.”  I’m going to put “kids" in the search too to help me find kid appropriate content.

    Walk students through the process of searching through content…This may include watching videos as well as reviewing web pages.  

    In your student notebook record 2 to 3 interesting facts that you could talk about to answer your question.  Do not copy exactly what was written on a website or said in a video.  If you look at two or three sources, can you write about what you learned?  Write down main ideas/facts, or a summary of the materials covered.  Record the sources you used in the lower text box.

    To cite your sources, list the Who (person or organization that wrote the article or produced the video), What (the title of the article or video), and Where (a link to the article or video).

    After reviewing a few of the hybrid motor sources, I might write: “There are different kinds of vehicles that use electric motors.  There are fully electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles that power the car using both a gas engine and electric motor.  Some hybrid vehicles plug in to recharge their batteries while others are recharged by capturing energy when the car uses its breaks. The motor receives power from the battery to make the car move and operate everything else like the air conditioner and car headlights.  Fast acceleration and using your air conditioner can drain your battery more quickly.”

    Some of the articles that you look at might have great images that you can use. I found this image: Can I use it?  What kind of license does it have? Do I have everything I need here to correctly attribute it?  Who, What, Where?  

    You can also search for images on wikipedia or on google image search…remember they need to be Public Domain or Creative Commons images and you need to give proper attribution.

    Have the students research their three questions, writing a summary for each, citing sources, add images, give attribution.

    Have students find two more images: One for their cover page and one for their bibliography. (30 Min.)

    Formative Assessment: Review Student Notebooks for understanding.


    Part Three (60 Min)


    • Google Slides Student Interactive Notebook: Informational Website: As Easy as 1, 2, 3 

    • Chromebooks for Each Student or Student Team/Partnership

    • Access to Adobe Express

    • Sample Adobe Web Page Project

    • Trip Report: With Adobe Spark Video by Adobe for Education

    Model Completed Project and How To Video:

    Show students your completed interactive notebook.  Explain that you are now going to turn the notebook into a website that they can publish.  Show them the project example.  

    Show this How To Video to your class and then have them click the link to Adobe Express.  (10 Min.)


    Create Presentation:

    Have students open up Adobe Express.

    Student can select either the “Presentation” or “Learning Journal” template from the home page.  Either will allow them to create a web page. 



    All of the photos that they put in their notebook should still be in their download folder.  They should upload all of the photographs for their presentation in the following order: Cover Photo, Fact 1, Fact 2, Question 1, Question 2, Question 3, Bibliography (with Split Layout).



    Instruct your students to add a title for their webpage. The subtitle should say who wrote it.

    Scroll to the next slide and copy and paste in the Fact 1 text from the student notebook.  Click to + button to add in additional text such as the attribution for the image on this page. (Copy and paste from your notebook).

    Continue scrolling through all of the slides to bring text and attribution data over to the project from the notebook.  

    On the bibliography page, have students change the format to split screen. Students will add webpage and video attributions which they used to research answers to their three questions.  If they did not give attributions to their images on the individual pages, they can enter the information in the bibliography.

    Once the “Glide-show" has been put together, students can fiddle with the themes until the slide show looks just the way they want it.  (30 Min.)


    Peer Review:

    Have students team up with a partner.  Have them take turns sharing their presentations by clicking the preview button.  The partner reviewing the presentation should point out three things that they like, and two things they think their partner could fix to make their presentation better.  

    Then they should switch and review the other presentation.  

    Students make final edits to their presentation, and when they are satisfied with it they should share it with the teacher by copying the link and pasting it in their Interactive Notebook or if you use Google Classroom, they can publish it there. (20 min.)


    Step 4 - Assessments

    Step 4 Assessments



    Formative Assessments:

    • Interactive Notebook Reviews: At the end of Part One and Part Two, the teacher will review the student’s interactive notebooks to check for understanding and ensure that progress is being made toward completion of the final project.  Students who may be off course or who have not finished the required steps can be worked with individually or homework can be assigned to complete the required steps in the project.

    • Observation: The teacher can work with students individually as they observe individual students struggling with a task.  They can then reteach one on one or take steps to adjust objectives as necessary.


    Summative Assessment:

    • Final Webpage: The students will submit the final webpage for a grade. Use the rubric attached for grading.