Background for Teachers
The following lessons are meant to give students opportunities to use reading strategies such as visualization to predict before visiting the website, activate prior knowledge, to become familiar with text features and to set a purpose for learning about Menasha and its changes over time.

Activity 1--- KWL Graphic Organizer


KWL graphic organizer drawn on chart paper or overhead in the classroom

KWL graphic organizers for each student, pencils

KWL graphic organizer


Completing a KWL graphic organizer before reading non-fiction text helps students draw on their prior knowledge, ask questions before they read and take responsibility for their learning. Therefore the teacher and students should complete a KWL chart before learning about their community, Menasha, and its changes over time.

  1. Draw a KWL graphic organizer on chart paper or on the overhead. Title the graphic organizer "Menasha”.
  2. Ask students: What does the “K” stand for in KWL? Answer is ‘what they already know about the topic'.
  3. Ask students: What does the “W” stand for in KWL? Answer is ‘what they want to learn about a topic'.
  4. Ask students: What does the “L” stand for in KWL? Answer is ‘what they have learned about the topic when they have finished the lessons'.

Model the Process

Using the graphic organizer drawn on the chart paper or overhead the teacher lists an item or two of knowledge about Menasha in the “K” of the KWL. For example, Menasha is a city in Wisconsin , people live in Menasha, people work here, or there are parks for families to enjoy in Menasha. The teacher then lists a couple questions of desired learning in the “W” of the KWL. For example, why do people live in Menasha, how has Menasha changed from the past to present?

Guided Practice

Ask students what they know about Menasha and write a few responses in the “K” of the KWL. Ask students what they want to know about Menasha and write a few questions in the “W” of the KWL.

Independent Practice
Give the students each a KWL graphic organizer and ask students to write in a few items of knowledge in the “K” of the KWL and a few questions they have about Menasha in the “W” of the KWL.

Share Time
After a sufficient amount of time ask students to share some of their knowledge and questions from their KWL graphic organizers. Students who have difficulty can work with a partner, teacher or copy some of the ideas from the whole class chart. When the units are completed, teacher and students should complete the chart with new information learned about Menasha.


Activity 2--- Text Features


Non-fiction book and magazines

Menasha History: Change over Time website on computer projector

Lab computers for students

Post-it notes



Identifying and understanding text features in non-fiction material (books and magazines) will enhance the identification and understanding of text features on the Menasha History on-line web site. Participating in a text walk will support the success of students' understanding as they maneuver through the site.

Review text features in books or magazines.

•  Do a picture walk of a non-fiction text (magazine or book).

•  Point out text features in the sample texts such as headings, subheadings, charts, photographs, drawings and captions under pictures, glossary or index.

•  Explain to students that these text features are ‘gifts' authors give the readers to help them understand the text.

•  Have students with partners or independently do a picture walk to find similar text features in new non-fiction texts (different than the teacher samples).

•  Gather students to share the text features discovered on their picture walks.

Model the Process

In the computer lab, log in to the site. Teacher should use the computer projector with students watching as the teacher models. Click on the unit “Main Street Through the Years .” Point out the text features such as the title Menasha History: Change Over Time and the subtitle, “Main Street Through the Years”. Click on the overview maps and the interactive maps to show the dates: 1884, 1900 and 1913. Explain that the bird moves from year to year in this unit and that they should watch for the blue-jay (the mascot for Menasha High School ) as they travel through the units. Also note to the students the caption from the police officer, Officer Mustache. Place cursor over the 1884 map and show students that a hand appears. Click the hand and show students that this allows them to enlarge maps and view map keys. Explain to students that being familiar with text features from the site will help them understand the information, be more confident navigating through the site and ensure success when completing the activities in each unit.

Guided Practice

Ask students to type in the Menasha History: Change Over Time website address. Open the site by clicking ‘Go' and have them book mark it in ‘favorites' to save the address for future lessons. Ask students to text walk just the unit “Main Street Through the Years” as the teacher modeled to discover the text features of the unit for practice.

Independent Practice

Students should use post-it notes to keep track of text features found on other units in this site. It will be helpful for class sharing later if they write the unit name and example of the text feature that they discovered. Encourage students to continue searching for text features through the units. Before share time begins each student should have at least one unit name and 2 or 3 examples of text features written on their post-it notes. Some students may have time to list more than one unit and may have listed many examples of text features on post-it notes.

Share Time

Students will take turns sharing a unit and example of the text features written on their post-it notes with the class. While one student shares, the other students may go to the unit mentioned as the sharing student shares the text features. Ask if others found the same text features in that unit or different text features. Students continue sharing in this manner until all students have a turn or as time allows.



Author: Kathleen Sendek, Geegan Elementary

May, 2007