English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Exhibits
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • Museums
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Information Writing

    Information Writing


    The purpose of this third Benchmark Assessment (Cold Write) is to assess what students know about informational writing. Students will respond to a writing prompt, and you will score results as a measure of their progress. Students will also research independently to find information and perspectives for their argument essay.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Familiarize yourself with the writing prompt and create a scoring guide.
    • If you have students on an IEP or other accommodations, check to see whether they receive extended time or need an alternative test setting. Work with the professional supporting SWDs to make sure student needs are met.
    • Prepare activities for students who finish early.

    Informational Writing

    • Provide 3 minutes for students to complete a Quick Write.
    • Have students share what they know about informational writing.
    • In the next task, students will take the assessment. Be prepared to do the following:
    • ✓ Answer any questions that are not of a substantive nature, providing no additional guidance about the prompt.
    • ✓ Do a quick thumbs-up/thumbs-down check to ensure that students understand the prompt and are ready to begin writing. Remind students that they will have only 20 minutes to write.
    • ✓ Tell students to begin working. When the allotted time has elapsed, tell students to stop working.
    • ✓ If students finish before time is up, direct them to other activities.


    Write a brief response to this question.

    • What do you know about informational writing?

    Open Notebook

    Share your knowledge with the class.

    Benchmark (Cold Write): Informational

    • Direct students to take the assessment. They will be responding to the following prompt:
      • The book 1984depicts a totalitarian government that controls its population partly by entering the lives of its peoples. The government manipulates language, employs the police and uses the ever-present telescreen to patrol peoples’ actions.
      • Today it is common to be screened by cameras in banks and department stores. Businesses have easy access to our bank-account figures. In fact, some people would argue that our personal lives are being invaded as those depicted in 1984are.
      • Choose one practice in our society that could be construed as an invasion of privacy. Describe that practice with enough details that someone can understand it and how it is an invasion of privacy.
    • Students have had opportunities to do informational writing throughout the year. Compare the information you gain from scoring this benchmark piece of writing with previous Cold Writes to see each student’s growth over time in the genre.
    • If students finish before time is up, direct them to other activities.

    Work Time

    Now you will write your informational piece. Remember that an informational piece is a text that gives facts and information about a topic. It can also be writing that explains something.

    You will have 20 minutes to write your informational piece.

    • Write a brief informational piece in response to the prompt.

    Citation Review

    • Because students will be continuing with independent research today, it's a good time to remind them of the importance of citing accurately as a way to preserve intellectual honesty and to give credit where credit is due.
      • SWD: Students with executive functioning difficulties may need more guidance as they complete the research process. Monitor the ability of these students to research and develop their essays. You can also provide with a checklist to help them track specific tasks.
    • You can also refresh any research skills your students may be struggling with. Students' questions should give you a clear idea of what they're struggling with and what's worth going over again before they continue with their independent work.

    Work Time

    Your teacher will briefly review the importance of citing information accurately.

    Citations are a way of preserving your intellectual honesty by giving credit where credit is due.

    Your essay will represent your own personal perspectives on the issues, but any information or perspective you gain from an outside source needs to be made clear to your reader.

    As you listen, write down any questions you have about how to use citations correctly.

    Open Notebook

    Independent Research

    • If it seems worthwhile for your class, you could model the process of finding an article and recording the citation information.
      • ELL: This can be a good opportunity to check in with your ELLs and make sure that they are successfully completing the research process and keeping up with their Works Cited list.

    Work Time

    • Find another article for your research and make a note of the citation information.
    • Create a Works Cited entry for the article.

    Open Notebook

    Article Reading and Annotation

    • Identify students who need individual attention and meet with them during this time.
      • SWD: Make sure to confer with any of your struggling readers and writers who may be behind so that they can catch up to the rest of the class. If possible, invite your professional supporting SWDs to meet with any students who need help finishing. Share your notes on the student's progress so that the professional supporting SWDs has a firm idea of what has been done and where to go next.
    • Help support students as they learn to research independently.


    • Find, read, and annotate your new article independently according to the steps in the Independent Research Workflow. If you don’t finish during class, you can finish the annotations for homework.

    Annotation and Revision

    • Remind students that they will need to share their two annotated articles with you by Lesson 16 .
      • ELL: Some ELLs may benefit from being allowed to do some of their prewriting in their primary language. If you have students for whom this is the case, establish with them when they can use their primary language and when they should switch into English.


    • Finish annotating your article.
    • A revised draft of your essay and two independently annotated articles will be due in Lesson 16.