ALEX Lesson Plan


Reading Like a Detective

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Mary Rease
System: Etowah County
School: Highland Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33251


Reading Like a Detective


This lesson is about using detective skills to be better nonfiction readers. Students will gather clues from the text to make assumptions and connections that will solve, and make meaning about the text. The students will use nonfiction text context clues, and pictures to realize that the author’s purpose is for them to find ALL the clues and make meaning of a topic.

  • Students use clues such as text evidence to make connections and understand text.  

  • Students use key details such as text evidence to gather information about a topic or the authors intended purpose.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
10 ) Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text. [RI.2.1]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.2.10- Answer who, what, and where questions to demonstrate understanding of an informational text.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
11 ) Identify the main topic of a multiparagraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text. [RI.2.2]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.2.11- Identify the main idea of an informational text; identify important details in an informational text.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
15 ) Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe. [RI.2.6]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.2.15- Identify the main purpose or topic of an informational text.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
16 ) Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text. [RI.2.7]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
28 ) Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question. [W.2.8]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.2.28- Recall experiences to answer a question.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

I can use details in text to make meaning of a topic.

I can use vocabulary strategies to make meaning of text.

I can use text evidence to answer questions.

I can use context clues, pictures, and headings to gain understanding of text and authors purpose. 

Additional Learning Objective(s):

I can look at headings and pictures to make meaning of text.

I can reread when meaning breaks down.

I can question text when meaning breaks down.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Optional Book: Nate the Great

Paper & Pencil

Graphic Organizer (contained in downloads)

Informational Text (Science, Social Studies...)

Optional: Eye Spy book and graphic organizer (download)

Technology Resources Needed:

Classroom Computer with AV and Internet Access


Students should have an understanding of nonfiction text. Nonfiction text uses features such as heading and special vocabulary.

Teacher can use the online version of Eye Spy to begin lesson:

Sorting Game: Eye Spy sort using graphic organizer:


Prior to lesson: Read one of the Second Grade Classics- Nate the Great stories. In these great second grade books Nate a young detective solves mysteries.

Prior to the lesson use the attached, "Eye Spy" activities to look for clues.

Activate Prior Knowledge

Hook or lesson opener- Talk to students about detectives and what a detective does.

Student Engagement- Have your students to turn to their partner and tell them what a detective does. Have them start with the sentence starter:  “A detective uses clues to…”

Walk around and listen to answers. Possible answers are: solves mysteries, solves crimes, and finds things… 

Clear up any misunderstanding and then tell them as readers, they are all detectives. That inside each page of text, the author leaves clues that are intended for the reader to find. Tell your students that these clues help them solve the mystery, the author’s purpose, the information hidden in text. Tell your students that the more clues you find, the more understanding and meaning is gained.

During lesson

Second Grade Science or Social Studies Text

Chunk text into small reasonable chunks.  Set a purpose for each chunk to gather text evidence to answer a question about the topic. Be specific for this lesson.  

Have your students read along with you. If you made detective eyes (popsicle sticks with plastic eyes) or spy glasses (pipe cleaners shaped like magnifying glass), make sure you have your students use these to point or circle the text evidence as you go.

Model Close reading:

  • Point out the captions to photos. Have students make connections between captions as the title of the photos.

  • Point out pictures: Have students record in graphic organizer the pictures and relation to topic.

    Ask your students if there are other photos or pictures the author could have used.

  • Point out headings:  Have your students record headings as details in graphic organizer.

  • Point out specific vocabulary. Model using surrounding text to make meaning of vocabulary.


    Anchor your learning using a class size details graphic organizer or chart paper. Refer to chart often so that the class can understand how idea or topic is being built and understanding is strengthened.  

****It is extremely important to take time to reread when meaning breaks down or students fail to make connections between detail and topic. Tell your students that rereading is a strategy that all good readers use to make meaning of text.

Guided Practice- Have your students find other photos and captions in text. Guide them to work with a partner to read and write what they learned from photo and caption.  Allow groups to share in class.

Formative Assessment/ Wrap Up

Choose a topic with a chunk of text in science or social studies book.  Group students as partners and have them create a foldable booklet by putting several sheets of paper together. Title first sheet as topic, heading, or a specific question.  Have students find details in chunk of text that supports or strengthens topic.  On last page have students ask a question they still have abut topic. Walk around and facilitate learning groups.


Assessment Strategies

Have students read details and have class guess topic.

Read questions on the back of foldable and have students answer.

*** Remember to give "wait time" so that students will have time to have productive struggle.


You can extend the lesson by bringing in pictures of objects and having your class sort objects into groups. Let them decide the grouping at first. Then have your students write details to support their choice of grouping.


For students who struggle with details have them go back with you and touch, circle, reread text evidence that links detail and heading or picture. 

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.