Crystal Hurt
English Language Arts, Composition and Rhetoric, Reading Informational Text
Material Type:
Unit of Study
High School
  • Digital Age Pedagogy
  • Digital Age Skills
  • ELA
  • Informational/expository Writing
  • Mentor Texts
  • NE Blended
  • Nebraska Department of Education
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike

    Education Standards

    BlendEd Best Practices: HS Informational Writing


    This resource was created by Megan Andersen in collaboration with Crystal Hurt as part of the 2019-20 ESU-NDE Digital Age Pedagogy Project. Educators worked with coaches to create Unit Plans promoting BlendEd Learning Best Practices. This Unit Plan is designed for 10th Grade ELA. 

    Unit Plan: Informational Writing Through Mentor Texts


    BlendEd Learning Best Practices

    Unit Template


    Unit Title: Informational Writing


    Content Area Skills: Writing, Multiple Literacies, Reading

    Digital Age Skills: Empowered Learner, Knowledge Constructor, Creative Communicator


    Duration of Unit: 3 weeks


    Unit Author: Megan Andersen

    BlendEd Coach: Crystal Hurt


     Overview of Unit: In this unit students will learn the elements of informational writing through analyzing mentor texts to improve their own writing and understanding of informational texts. This unit is adapted from ideas used in the book 180 Days by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle.


    Empower Learners

    Empower Learners is a transitional segment to Cyclical Unit Design. The purpose is to both Review prior learning and Preview upcoming learning.



    Learning Objectives
    Content Area Skills: For Standards, please include # and description (add or delete rows as needed)Student Friendly Learning Objectives:
    LA 10.2.2.a Communicate information and ideas effectively in analytic, argumentative, descriptive, informative, narrative, poetic, persuasive, and reflective modes10.2.2.a I can use evidence from a text to support my analysis, reflection, and research.
    LA 10.2.2.d Use precise word choice and domain-specific vocabulary to write in a variety of modes.10.2.2.d I can examine mentor texts and use them to create my own writing in a similar format or style.
    LA 10.1.6.n Formulate and justify inferences with text evidence while previewing, reading, and analyzing literary and informational text in various formats10.1.6.n I can use text evidence from literary and informational text to make and support inferences
    LA 10.4.1 Information Fluency: Students will evaluate, create, and communicate information in a variety of media and formats (textual, visual, and digital).10.4.1 I can responsibly evaluate, create, and communicate information in a variety of formats
    LA 10.4.1.b Demonstrate ethical use of information and copyright guidelines by appropriately quoting or paraphrasing from a text and citing the source using available resources (e.g., online citation tools, publication guidelines).10.4.1.b I can quote or paraphrase text and properly cite sources using print and digital tools.
    ISTE: 1cStudents use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.I can use technology to demonstrate how I learned information in a variety of ways.
    ISTE: 6aStudents choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.I can choose the correct tools to meet the expectations in a project I create.



    Empower Learner Activity
    Detailed Description (self-assessment, goal sheet, action plan)I am using a self-assessment to see where my students are with their knowledge of informational texts.
    Link to Empower Learner Activity Google Form Self Assessment





    Knowledge Application

    The purpose of Knowledge Application is to promote deeper-level learning through student creation of learning artifacts demonstrating both Content Area and Digital Age Skills. A key goal is to provide some degree of control over how students will show what they know.



    Artifact Profile
    Title of the Artifact: My Passion
    Detailed Description: The Digital Media class is looking for new materials to post on the school website. Each week, one of you will be showcased with a “Passion” project. Your final project is to create a digital product that communicates “your passion” in an informational way using different informational “texts” to prove your mastery of the unit.
    Content Area Skills Addressed:10.2.2.a, 10.2.2.d, 10.1.6.n, 10.4.1, 10.4.1.b,Digital Age Skills Addressed:Knowledge ConstructorCreative CommunicatorLink to Rubric: Single Point Rubric



    Knowledge Deepening

    During Knowledge Deepening, the Content Area Skills required of the Learning Artifact are broken down into bite-sized tasks. A key goal is to provide some degree of choice over how students practice the Content Area Skills.



    Task 1: Direct Instruction Notes
    Notes on Informational text. What is it? Why is it important for me to learn? We review the different text structures with this:
    • Description
    • Sequence
    • Cause/Effect
    • Compare/Contrast
    • Problem/Solution
    Must Do’s:Take notesMay Do’s:Resources: Text Structure ResourcesTip: Use the ppt from above and create an EdPuzzle, or use Nearpod Text Structure resources for direct instruction.


    Task 2: What Is An Infographic? Introductory Station Rotations
    Description:  Infographics: I shared three of my favorite ones to work with and did a station rotation with students. Station 1: Individual Summary square with a CommonLit articleStation 2:  Virtual infographic: Brainstorm ideas on how an infographic like this could be valuable. I have students write their ideas in a “discussion board” through Canvas and reply to other classmates. This allows my students who don’t always participate in group discussion to share their ideas.Station 3: Coke Infographic. Why can’t you believe this? Place chart paper beside this infographic for students to write their ideas about why it may not be valid.Station 4: Meet with me about what infographics are meant to communicate. I use the Boy Band Blueprint infographic, because it is one that allows a lot of discussion. It was one suggested in 180 Days.
    Must Do’s:All stations for this one.May Do’s: Resources: Virtual InfographicCoke InfographicBoy Band BluePrint





    Task 3: What Is An Infographic? Carousel
    Description:  Upon entry into the classroom, students will see several infographics placed around the room. In groups of two, I will first have them circulate to just “look” at them. They will then be given a rubric to use to determine which infographics are reliable and work and which ones are not reliable and seem to be confusing.After this activity is finished, we have small group discussions about our reasonings and then a whole-class discussion.
    Must Do’s:Critique five of the twenty infographics within the room.May Do’s:Work alone or with a partnerResources: Click HERE for infographic critiqueDifferent places I pull infographics. I do use Google quite a bit too:).



    Task 4: Reviews as Informational Texts
    Description: **I do all of this on Canvas and have the students read so many of the links I provide. I have found it is easier for them this way as well.**I provide several different examples of restaurant reviews, book reviews, product reviews, and movie reviews for students to critique. I have them look at the word choice and sentence structure first. Then I have them look at the information being presented and have them determine whether it is exemplary text or if it needs work.
    Must Do’s:Choose 2 of each type of review and compare them.May Do’s:Work with a partner or alone.Either fill out a checklist or do a voice recorded critique of the chosen comparisons. Either one you choose to do needs to be turned in to Canvas.Resources: Clicke HERE for compare/contrast organizer.My reviews come in different formats. I use New York Times book reviews, NPR book reviews, Goodreads, etc. I have linked a few here:Book ReviewRestaurant ReviewRestaurant ReviewMovie Review




    Task 5: Flex Stations: Understanding
    Description: Each day I do a mini lesson with a short informational mentor text. We discuss the structure, the writing technique, and other pieces I feel students are still struggling with. I then do a flex/rotation station model to immerse them in different types of informational texts.
    1. Choose one of several TedTalks to watch. I have students write in their notebooks about what makes the TedTalk work or not work in their opinion.
    2. Choose three of several CommonLit articles I assign and identify the text structure. Students also have to answer the questions offered in CommonLit which allows me to see who is struggling.
    3. Write your own movie/restaurant/classroom review using what has been discussed in class.
    4. Create an infographic about your school year.
    I am stationed on a wall overlooking everything in my classroom. Each day I give my students two 15 minute blocks where I will go over a skill or review a resource with them. I require some students to attend these sessions, but others only have to if they feel it necessary with their learning.
    Must Do’s: Steps 1-4May Do’s:Meet with me for a 15 minute block.Resources: 






    Direct Instruction

    Direct Instruction scaffolds the learning process for all students. A key goal is to incorporate BlendEd strategies to effectively differentiate instruction in order to maximize learning.



    Learning Path
    Day #DescriptionBlendEd ModelResources
    1Task 1: Direct Instruction on Informational TextsDirect InstructionText Structure ResourcesNearpod Text Structure 
    2Summary Squares. I learned this technique at an ESU 10 ALP Workshop. I taught students how to use it in order to pull out the essence of an article.Direct Instruction/Gradual Release Summary Sheet
    3Task 2: Infographics Introductory StationsStation RotationVirtual InfographicCoke InfographicBoy Band BluePrint
    4-5Task 3: Infographic CarouselRotation + Whole Group Discussion  
    6Direct instruction on ReviewsWe go over how movie reviews, restaurant reviews, etc. are considered informational text. I also review the different structures of informational text again during this. Whole class 
    7Task 4: Reviews as informational textsStation Rotation  
    8-10Task 5: Flex Stations: UnderstandingFlex Model/Rotation 
    11-14Class time to work on the final project.