Level Q

About the Book 

Text Type: Nonfiction/Informational
Page Count: 24
Word Count: 1,376

Book Summary
Written in a clear, informative style, Sharks describes the physical appearances, eating habits, reproduction methods, and attack capabilities of sharks. The author points out that although sharks generally are thought of as dangerous killers, only small percentages actually are. Some kinds of sharks are in danger of becoming extinct and need protection.

About the Lesson

Targeted Reading Strategy

  • Ask and answer questions


  • Use the reading strategy of asking and answering questions
  • Identify main ideas and details
  • Recognize and use comparative and superlative adjectives
  • Identify and form compound words


  • Book -- Sharks (copy for each student)
  • Chalkboard or dry erase board
  • Main idea and details web, compound words worksheets

      Indicates an opportunity for students to mark in the book. (All activities may be demonstrated by projecting book on interactive whiteboard or completed with paper and pencil if books are reused.)


  • Content words: camouflage, cartilage, caudal, dorsal fin, extinction, hammerhead, lobes, parasites, pectoral, pelvic, pygmy, spined, triangular

Before Reading 

Build Background

  • Discuss sharks. Talk about what students know and have heard about sharks. Create a KWL chart on the board, and fill in the first column with things students know about sharks.

Preview the Book

Introduce the Book

  • Give students their copy of the book. Guide them to the front and back covers and read the title. Have students discuss what they see on the covers. Encourage them to offer ideas as to what type of book it is and what it might be about.
  • Show students the title page. Discuss the information on the page (title of book, author's name, illustrator's name). Point out the glossary and ask volunteers to explain its use.

Introduce the Reading Strategy: Ask and answer questions

  • Discuss with students how having prior knowledge about the topic, and asking and answering questions while reading, can help readers understand and remember the information in a book.
  • Direct students to the table of contents. Remind them that the table of contents provides an overview of the information in a book and how it is organized. Model asking questions.
    Think-aloud: The first section in this book is the Introduction. The purpose of an Introduction is to give an overview of what the book is about. The second section is titled "Physical Description." I've seen many different types of sharks. This title makes me wonder what physical characteristics different sharks have in common. I'm going to write What do different types of sharks have in common? on the KWL chart.
  • Have students preview the rest of the book, looking at photos, illustrations, and sidebar text. Ask students if they've come up with additional questions after looking through the book. Add their questions to the KWL chart on the board.
  • As students read, they should use other reading strategies in addition to the targeted reading strategy presented in this section. For tips on additional reading strategies, click here.

Introduce the Comprehension Skill: Main idea and details

  • Explain to students that sometimes the amount of information about a topic is so large that it is grouped into sections, each section having its own main idea.
  • Reread the section titles of the table of contents together. Explain to students that you will be showing them how to identify main ideas in the book from what they read as a strategy for understanding and remembering the content of the book.
  • Read page 4 aloud to students. Model identifying the main idea and details.
    Think-aloud: I know that the section headings will sometimes identify the main idea. Each section contains details that support a main idea about sharks. The first section is the Introduction. In this section, I learned that sharks lived before dinosaurs and they live in shallow water and deep waters. I will underline this information. Based on what I've read, I think the main idea of the section is: The basic facts about sharks.
  • Ask students to identify details from the book that support this main idea (they are possibly the world's most succesful hunters, can be found from the equator to the poles, and so on).
  • Create a main idea and details chart on the board similar to the one on the main idea and details worksheet. Say: I can use this chart to help me keep track of the main idea and details of each section of the book. I will use the section heading as a strong clue as to the main idea for that section. Write the main idea and details for the first section (Introduction) in the chart on the board.

Introduce the Vocabulary

  • Remind students of the strategies they can use to work out words they don't know. For example, they can use what they know about letter and sound correspondence to figure out the word. They can look for words within words, prefixes, and suffixes. They can use the context to work out the meanings of unfamiliar words.
  • Model how to apply word-attack strategies. Direct students to the bold word on page 8 (camouflage). Read the sentence containing the unfamiliar word. Tell students that you can use context clues, or the words around the unfamiliar word, to figure out the word's meaning. Ask students to find a phrase in the sentence that provides a clue about the word's meaning (blend with their surroundings). Explain that you think the unfamiliar word must mean that small sharks have some type of pattern on their bodies that helps them blend into their ocean surroundings.
  • Remind students that they should check whether words make sense by rereading the sentence. Tell them to look for other clues in sentences before and after the sentence containing the unfamiliar word in order to find or confirm the meaning of the word.
  • For additional tips on teaching word-attack strategies, click here.

Set the Purpose

  • Have students read the book to find factual answers to their questions and the main idea and details of each section in the book.

During Reading 

Student Reading

  • Guide the reading: Have students read to the end of page 9. Tell them to look for answers to their questions about sharks as they read. Have them underline important words or phrases in the book. If they finish before everyone else, they can go back and reread.
  • When students have finished reading, have them tell the questions on the KWL chart that have been answered. Add any new questions students have.
  • Model answering questions.
    Think-aloud: I've found the answer to my first question. Even though sharks don't all look the same, they do have a lot in common. For example, all sharks have skeletons made of cartilage, and all sharks have skin instead of scales.
  • Review with students that the title of each section can be a clue to the main idea for a part of the book. Have them turn back to page 7. Say: The title of this section is "Physical Description". The section is describing the physical characteristics of sharks. I will write this as my main idea Physical characteristics of sharks. Ask students to provide details for this main idea and add them to the class chart (most sharks have streamline bodies, smaller sharks use camouflage as protection, sharks have dorsal fins, and so on).
  • Check for understanding: Hand out the main ideas and details worksheet and have students read the next section "Eating". Have them fill in the same titled section of their worksheet. Ask students what questions they found answers to and have volunteers write their answers in the L section of the KWL chart.
  • Tell students to read the remainder of the book. Remind them to look for answers to the questions written on the KWL chart, or to think of other questions to add to it. Tell them to write down any questions they have in the page margins of their books.

      Tell students to make a small question mark in their books beside any word they do not understand or cannot pronounce. These can be addressed in the discussion that follows.

After Reading 

  • Ask students what words they marked in their books. Use this opportunity to model how they can read these words using decoding strategies and context clues.

Reflect on the Reading Strategies

  • Review with students how asking questions about a topic and looking for answers to those questions while reading helps to keep us involved in the reading of a book.
  • Have students share any other questions they came up with while reading. Discuss how this strategy helps them understand and remember what they read.

Reflect on the Comprehension Skill

  • Discussion: Discuss how stopping to review the important details helped students remember the facts and better understand the information in the book.
  • Independent practice: Have students complete the main idea and details worksheet. If time allows, discuss their responses.
  • Enduring Understanding: In this book you learned about many aspects of sharks. Knowing this information, does it make you wonder about other animals and the physical characteristics they have as well as their environmental needs and types of survival instincts?

Build Skills 

Grammar and Mechanics: Comparative and superlative adjectives

  • Review or explain that adjectives are words used to describe nouns and pronouns. Ask students to suggest adjectives to describe sharks. Write these on the board. If students do not offer the adjectives large and mean, add them to the list.
  • Direct the students to the illustration on page 7. Ask students to look at the pictures of the great white shark and the spined pygmy shark and tell which is larger. Explain that most of the time when two people, places, or things are being compared, ­an -r or -er is added to the word. Tell students that because the word large ends with ­-e, only an -r is added. Demonstrate adding -er to the adjective mean.
  • Have students look at the illustration on page 7 again. Ask which of the sharks is the largest of the three? Explain that when more than two people, places, or things are being compared -st or -est is added to the adjective. Write the word largest on the board. Repeat the demonstration by adding -est to the adjective mean.
  • Write the following sentences on the board. Have students identify the correct adjective for each.

1. Dogfish sharks are (smaller, smallest) than spined pygmy sharks.
2. The whale shark is the (larger, largest) of all sharks.
3. Many sharks swim (faster, fastest) than their prey.
4. Great white sharks have much (sharper, sharpest) teeth than cat sharks.
5. Sharks are some of the (older, oldest) creatures on Earth.

Word Work: Compound words

  • Tell students that some of words they read in the book are words made by putting two words together. Direct students to page 4. Ask them to find the word seashores. Write the word on the board. Tell students that two words have been put together to make a new word with a new meaning. Ask students to tell the meaning of the words sea and shores. Then have them tell the meaning of the newly formed word (the land along a body of water).
  • Check for understanding by asking students to turn to page 9 and find a word made from two other words (underside). Ask students to tell what each word means by itself and what the compound word means.
  • Give students the compound words worksheet to complete. Discuss their answers.

Build Fluency 

Independent Reading

  • Allow students to read their books independently or with a partner. Partners can take turns reading parts of the book.

Home Connection

  • Give students their books to take home to read with parents, caregivers, siblings, or friends. Have them discuss the main idea and details for each section of the book.

Extend the Reading 

Informational Writing Connection
Provide students with print and Internet resources related to sharks. Have students choose one type of shark and write an informational report. Have students use the section titles of the book as what should be included in their report. Allow time for students to share their reports with the class.

Visit Writing A-Z for a lesson and leveled materials on informational report writing.

Science Connection
Have students work cooperatively in small groups to research one of the reasons some sharks are endangered. Provide written and online resources. Have each group present their findings to the class, including their suggestions for ways to help save endangered shark species.


Monitor students to determine if they can:

  • consistently ask and answer questions about the book to understand and remember informational text
  • identify and organize main ideas and details on a web chart
  • recognize and apply comparative and superlative adjectives
  • identify and form compound words in text and on a worksheet

Comprehension Checks

Go to "Sharks" main page

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