Language Arts Grade 4
Unit: The Top Ten
Purposes: Nonfiction Reading and Writing, Research Skills, 21st Century Skills
Essential Questions: Where do opinions come from? What influences opinions? What makes an opinion valid?

Project Wiki

This 4th grade unit of study was inspired by Scholastic's The 10 series , edited by Jeffrey Wilhelm, author of Reading Don't Fix No Chevys , Engaging Readers and Writers with Inquiry and Going with the Flow. Aligned to grade level content-area standards, THE 10 is a collection of exciting titles that combine a variety of text features and genres to motivate and educate all students, including striving and reluctant readers. The 10 title, The 10 Most Deadliest Predators on Land , serves as an anchor text as students learn about reading, researching, and writing nonfiction text. The culminating product is the Top Ten wiki collaboratively authored by the students. Small groups will each contribute a section to the wiki that presents, through multimedia (Voki, images, hypertext, and video), what the students believe to be the 10 most dangerous, funniest, ugliest, strangest, etc. ocean animals. Their ranked 10 will be determined based on a list of criteria that the group draws up. Students will apply their newly acquired knowledge of nonfiction text as they present the data and reasoning from their investigation to support their choices for the 10. The audience of the wiki will be asked whether they agree or disagree with the ranking and to justify their reasoning with their own data.

Desired Results
Established Goals:

Common Core State Standards
Reading Standards for Information Texts
Key Ideas and Details
  • 1. Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • 2. Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
  • 5. Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text
    or part of a text.
  • 7. Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
  • 8. Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.
  • 9. Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
Writing Standards
  • 1. Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
a. Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
b. Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.
c. Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases (e.g., for instance, in order to, in addition).
d. Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
  • 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
a. Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
c. Link ideas within categories of information using words and phrases (e.g., another, for example, also, because).
d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
e. Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.
  • 6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.
  • 7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
  • 8. Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.
  • 9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Speaking and Listening
  • 3. Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.

AASL for the 21st Century Learner Standard 3: Students share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society.

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)
2. Communication and Collaboration
Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
3. Research and Information Fluency
Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information
5. Digital Citizenship
Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.

Connecticut Mastery Test Objectives
A3 Select and use relevant information from the text in order to summarize events and/or ideas in the text.
A5 Use context clues yo determine meanings of unknown or multiple meaning words or figurative language.
B1 Identify or infer the author's use of structure/organizational patterns.
C1 Make connections between the text and outside experiences and knowledge.
C2 Select, synthesize and/or use relevant information within the text to write a personal response to text.

Connecticut Grade Level Expectations
-Define words and concepts necessary for understanding content area text.
-Use new vocabulary from informational/expository text.
-Activate prior knowledge before reading
-Evaluate predictions and adjust as necessary
-Summarize information to maintain focus and provide clarity.
-Use appropriate resources to locate information, e.g., index, glossary, dictionary, thesaurus, directory, website on a specific topic or for a specific purpose.
-Summarize information, including main idea, most important text-based facts, details, and/or ideas, e.g., newspaper, magazine, Internet articles and content journals.
-Distinguish fact vs. opinion in text.
-Recognize organizational patterns of text, e.g., main ideas and supporting details, compare/contrast, cause/effect, sequence of events.
-Determine an author’s purpose for including or omitting details to create meaning.
-Elicit, discuss and respect the opinions of others about written, oral and visual texts.
-Share opinions and judgments based on texts.
-Pose questions, listen to the ideas of others, and contribute own information and ideas in group discussions.
-Apply knowledge of nonfiction text structures and craft to own writing
-Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society.
Enduring Understandings
Essential Questions
Our opinions are influenced by our experiences and what we read, view, and listen to.

Opinions are considered more valid when they are supported by factual evidence.

Authors have a purpose for writing, speaking, and video making.
Where do opinions come from?
What influences opinions?
What makes an opinion valid?

The student will know...
The students will be able to...
  • Types of nonfiction; informational texts, feature articles, news articles, Internet multimedia
  • Purposes of nonfiction; inform, explain, entertain, persuade
  • Features and organizational structures of nonfiction texts
  • Ethical uses of resources; Citing sources, Copyright and Creative Commons
  • Fact vs Opinion
  • Factual Evidence to support opinions and conclusions
  • Important vs Interesting facts
  • Draw conclusions
  • Support with evidence
  • Identify main ideas and details
  • Take notes
  • Distinguish between important vs interesting facts
  • Construct written responses to open-ended questions
  • Compare and contrast information

Content Vocabulary
author's purpose
main idea

Assessment Evidence
Performance Tasks
Important/Interesting Poster Animal Jigsaw Rubric.doc
Wiki Animal Profile Page
Student Example
Research Scoring Guide
Animal Profile Scoring Guide
The 10 wiki rubric.doc
Formative Assessments

Blue Ribbon Test
Constructed Response Questions
Self Reflection 1 Teamwork Reflection.doc
Self Reflection 2 STUDENT_SELF_REFLECTION[1].doc
Wiki Discussions
Author's Purpose Assessment The Ten Assessment Author's Purpose.doc
Learning Plan
Teaching Strategies
Nonlinear Representations
Cooperative Learning
Generating and Testing Hypothesis
Setting Goals and Providing Feedback

Bulletin Board

Make your students members of these wikis:
The Top Ten Wiki

Wiki Talks Wiki

Frontloading Activities
Lesson 1: The Essential Questions In this introduction to the investigation, students discuss the essential questions.
Lesson 1.doc
Lesson 2: The 10 Smartest Dogs Students watch Animal Planet videos of the ten smartest dogs in the world with the purpose of looking for factual evidence that supports the opinion that these are the ten smartest dogs in the world.
Lesson 2.doc
Smartest Dog Notetaking.doc
The Top 10 Smartest Dogs Video
Smartest Dogs: Dog Blog
The Intelligence of Dogs
Part 1: The Ten Deadliest Predators on Land
Lesson 3: Introduction to The Ten Deadliest Predators on Land Students preview vocabulary and make and support their predictions about which animals they believe will appear on the list of the ten deadliest predators on land. Students check their predictions using the Table of Contents and generate questions they have.
Lesson 3.doc
RIVET file
Copies of The Ten Deadliest Predators on Land part of Scholastic's The 10 series
Lesson 4: #10 The Komodo Dragon Students read and discuss the articles about the Komodo Dragon. After they read, students write responses to CMT-like questions.
Lesson 4.doc
Komodo Dragon Questions.doc
Animal Planet Videos
Jaws and Claws: Komodo Dragon
Baby Komodo Dragons
Lesson 5: #9 and #8 The Chimpanzee and the Fat-Tailed Scorpion After completing an anticipation guide and discussing it in groups, students read and discuss the articles about the Chimpanzee and the Fat-Tailed Scorpion.
Lesson 5.doc
Lesson 6: Jigsaw Cooperative Groups Students work in cooperative groups to read about and teach others about one of the top ten deadly predators. They identify important information (facts that support the author's opinion that this is one of the Top Ten deadliest animals on land), interesting information, and key vocabulary. They communicate the information and apply their knowledge of nonfiction text features to a presentation poster.
Lesson 6
Copies of the articles about animals #7 - #3 for groups to read and highlight.
5 Animal Jigsaw.ppt
Animal Jigsaw Rubric.doc
Teamwork Reflection.doc
Speaking Rubric-1.doc
Lesson 7: What Makes a Good Online Discussion? Learning How to Discuss on the Wiki Students discuss the Japanese legend, Ooka and the Honest Thief on the Wiki Discussion board.
Lesson 7
Jr. Great Books - Semester 1
Jr. Great Books Worksheets: Anticipatory, Direction Notes, Critical Writing
Questions Posted on WikiTalks
Lesson 8: Deadliest Predators 2 and 1: The Tiger and Humans
The Ten Assessment Author's Purpose.doc
Lesson 9: What is Fair? Discussing on the Wiki Students improve their online discussion skills as they respond in small online groups to the Korean legend, The Ungrateful Tiger.
Lesson 9
The Ungrateful Tiger.doc
The Ungrateful Tiger Notes.doc
Lesson 10: Do We Agree? Students work in cooperative groups to search for evidence to support the author's claims using the author's stated criteria and criteria which the class feels is important. The data is complied onto a class Comparison Matrix. The animals are then re-ranked by assigning each criteria a value and adding them up for a ranking score.
Bulletin Board Directions
Lesson 11: Animal Haikus Students write animal What Am I? haikus to publish on the wiki.
Animal Haikus
Animal Haikus for Discussion
What AM I Haiku
Part 2: The Top Ten
Lesson 10: Our Own Top Ten! In this lesson, students select a class top ten category of animals which they will research and the criteria by which they will rank the animals.

Lesson 11: Selecting an Animal Students choose an animal which they will research based on the established criteria.

Lesson 12: How to Use the Follett Destiny Library Circulation System Students learn from the media specialist how to use keywords to search for available print and video sources in the school library. They check out a collection of books and videos for the classroom to use.
Hints About Print Interactive
Lesson 13: Setting Up Our Note-taking Organizer Students use a Foldable to organize the information that they are finding as they research. In this lesson, they create the Foldable with category headings such as Diet, Behavior, Life Cycle.
Note-taking Foldables
Lesson 14: How to Take Notes Students learn how to locate information in print resources and take down the main ideas and details.

Lesson 15: Citing Print and Website Sources Students create a Foldable Citing Sources guide and learn how to cite print and website sources as they research.
Foldable Citing Sources guide
Lesson 15: How to Search Using a Variety of Search Engines Students learn how to use a variety of search engines such as Ask Jeeves,
Choosing a Search Engine Lesson
Choosing a Search Site.pdf
Lesson 16: Writing the Animal Profile Page Students use their notes to write paragraphs for the wiki.
Wiki Animal Profile Page
Student Example
Research Scoring Guide

Animal Profile Scoring Guide
Lesson 17: Creating the Animal Profile Page on the Wiki Students copy and paste their work into the wiki template, save and insert images, and add defined vocabulary and "fast facts".
The 10 wiki rubric.doc
Lesson 18: Rank the Animals Students read the completed animal profiles, looking for evidence to support each of the predetermined criteria. The animals are then ranked based on the evidence.
Enrichment Activities toptenenrichmentmenu.doc
Enrichment 1: Voki Zoologist After watching examples of real zoologists videos, students take the role of a zoologist who is an expert on the animal they've been researching. They write a script and create a Voki. Student example
Videos of Zoologists
Enrichment 2: MyAnimalSpace Students take on the persona of their animal and create a personal profile space on the Top Ten wiki. Student example