Grade 2: Reading and Writing About Whales Using Fiction and Nonfiction Texts


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Reading Literature

RL.2.1 Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

RL.2.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Reading Informational Text

RI.2.1 Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

RI.2.2 Identify the main topic of a multiparagraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.

RI.2.3 Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.

RI.2.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.

RI.2.5 Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.

RI.2.8 Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text.

RI.2.9 Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.

RI.2.10 By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Reading Foundational Skills

RF.2.4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

RF.2.4(a) Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.

RF.2.4(c) Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.


W.2.5 With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.

W.2.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).

Speaking and Listening

SL.2.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

SL.2.1(a) Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).

SL.2.1(b) Build on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.

SL.2.1(c) Ask for clarification and further explanation as needed about the topics and texts under discussion.

SL.2.2 Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.


L.2.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.

L.2.4(a) Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

L.2.5(a) Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., describe words that are spicy or juicy)


This Grade 2 unit plan titled “Reading and Writing About Whales Using Fiction and Nonfiction Texts” is from with an estimated ELA/Literacy instructional time of eight 30-minute sessions. The emphasis of this unit is for students to: compare and contrast the information in nonfiction and fiction texts, learn how to formulate research questions, and then how to write a letter. As the summative assessment, students write individual letters about a scientific question and then send them to an online scientist for a response.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that teacher notes and preparation materials will require familiarity to be used effectively. Texts needed for the unit are cited, but are not included; however, there is an extensive listing of online resources.  It is unclear if there is explicit instruction for many of the Reading for Information and all of the Reading Foundational Skills listed.  The summative assessment that is included in this unit is not fully developed to address all of the standards listed and does not include a CCSS aligned scoring rubric. It is not clear if students who are ELL or who have disabilities are provided with the necessary scaffolding to meet the targeted standards. Computers are needed to fully implement the plan as intended.


The unit plan is a useful example how to include a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time. The plan also illustrates how to integrate science content with the application of literacy skills. The use of technology deepens learning and cultivates student interest and engagement in reading, writing, and speaking about texts.

The Inspiring Excellence Series (from Expeditionary Learning) is a set of six videos that document a learning expedition- an extended interdisciplinary study- involving second-grade students in Jenna Gampel’s class at the Conservatory Lab Charter Schools in Boston, MA, investigating the topic of snakes.  The videos celebrate a powerful confluence of exciting original research that includes fieldwork and experts, artistic skill and critique, and sharp Common Core literacy practices in reading for and writing with evidence. 

 Part 1  Inspiring Excellence: Overview

 Part 2  Inspiring Excellence: Building Motivation and Skills through Whole-Class  Research

 Part 3  Inspiring Excellence: Building Motivation and Skills through Independent Research

 Part 4  Inspiring Excellence:  Using Models and Critiques to Create Works of Quality     

 Part 5  Inspiring Excellence:  Reading to Get Ready to Write

Part 6 Inspiring Excellence: Writing and Speaking with Power