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The Fact and Fiction of Fish
Content Topic:
a lesson to help students learn the difference between fiction and nonfiction
Second grade students will learn the difference between fact and fiction in the library via lecture, discussion, and practice. They will then do some research on an animal of their choice using nonfiction books and web sites. Finally, using their library research findings, they will write a fictional story and create an informative PowerPoint presentation in their classrooms, and use these materials to teach 1st graders the difference between fiction and nonfiction.
Total Estimated Time:
3 hours
Suggested Number Of Sessions:

The following materials are suggested for the lesson:


The following sources were used to develop the idea for this lesson:


Instruction / Activities:
  1. To introduce the difference between fiction and nonfiction, the LMS will help the students link the concepts to ones students already know: “make-believe” and “true.” Have a flip chart prepared with these known words listed at the top of a T-chart, with space enough to add the synonyms, “fiction” and “nonfiction,” and “fake” and “not fake.” Engage the students by asking them to share what they know about fish. This should be easy and engaging since they’ve been learning how to care for their class pet fish. List these facts in the “true” column on the flip chart. Then, ask students to imagine that their pet fish was magic. Have them share their ideas about what their magic fish would be able to do, and write them on the flip chart under “make believe.”
  2. Talk about the difference between nonfiction and fiction, referring to their lists as things they might read about in the two different kinds of books, and give them the “fake”/”not fake” mnemonic to help them remember the new words and their meanings. Make sure to point out the different areas of the library where they can find these different kinds of books.
  3. The main learning activities require students to think about these new concepts applied to several novel examples. They’ll first do this in a group. The LMS will read a fiction and nonfiction book about fish, following each with a discussion with the students, in which they are asked to consider whether the book is fiction or nonfiction and the reasons why they think so. This will generate lists of features of each type of book, which the LMS will record on a new T-chart that can be posted in the library for reference. At the end the of period, students can work in pairs to practice their new skill by playing an online computer “game” in which they read (or can be read to) short narratives and have to indicate whether they are fiction or nonfiction (See the Resources section for link).
  4. On a different day, students will continue to practice the new concepts they’ve learned, but a little more independently. When they arrive in the library, the LMS will begin by reminding students of the difference between fiction and nonfiction, referring to the example fish books used last time and referring to the 2nd T-chart created during the previous lesson. The LMS will then explain the “Mixed Bags” assignment, in which pairs of students receive a bag containing a pair of books: a fiction and a nonfiction book about the animal they selected to learn more about in their class. Their task is to work together to decide which book is fiction and which is nonfiction, and record their responses and their reasons on a T-chart worksheet (see Resources). Once students complete the worksheet, one student from each pair will share with the class the T-chart they created.
  5. Now that students know that they can find facts in nonfiction books, they can begin researching their animals. The class will start with the teacher reminding students about the writing assignments, which they will do in the classroom, and telling them that they will get ready for that project today by learning more about their animals. As a review, she will ask them, “Since your goal is to find facts about your animal, should you look at the fiction book or the nonfiction book for information?”
  6. Students will then work with their partners and the LMS and teacher to find information about their animal from two sources selected in advance by the teachers: the nonfiction book from the mixed bags activity (this should increase confidence given its familiarity), and a web page featuring their animal (See Resources for suggested web pages). Each pair of students will be given a note taking guide, on which they will fill in information that will be required for their informative (nonfiction) PowerPoint presentations (e.g., where the animal lives, what they eat, what they look like, what kind of covering they have, how they move, and two other interesting facts).
  7. At a later time, in the classroom, their teacher will provide them with templates to use to create their PowerPoint presentations and their fictional stories. They will be required to teach the kindergarten students in the library the difference between fiction and nonfiction using their creations, in addition to sharing their PowerPoint presentations with their classmates as part of their science unit on animals.
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Presented By: Kristen Link
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