Adams County

Adams County

Unit Title:

Adams County: An Informational Writing Unit


Students will research and present information about Adams county based on a variety of investigations.

Grade Level:


Lesson author(s):

Deb Diemert,

Dennis David,

Ann Benz,

Ellen Wolosek,

Paige Decker,

Instructional Materials Needed (if applicable):

Adams County booklet, Adams County PowerPoint, Adams County Goods and Services Interview (student handout, one per student), animal research, class anchor charts

Wisconsin Standards for English Language Arts Addressed (ELA Full Document or Literacy in All Subject Areas Full Document):

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8 Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Standards Addressed (Full Document or searchable spreadsheet):

ELS.C1 Students develop and connect with their sense of place and well-being through observation and questioning.

ELS.C7 Students engage in experiences to develop stewardship for the sustainability of natural and cultural systems.

Evidence of Need:

Priot to the start of the Adams County unit, students will complete "What I Think I Know,"and "What I Want to Know portions of individual Adams County KWL Charts (created in their own notebooks)"

Evidence of Success:

-Students will investigate questions that they may have about the natural and cultural communities of Adams County, where they live, through reading, viewing, listening, and field trip experiences.

-Students will identify, discuss, and record new learning about the natural and cultural communities of Adams County.

-Students will revise previously-held ideas about the natural and cultural communities of Adams County when conflicting or new information becomes available.

-Students will synthesize new learning by writing an informational piece that teaches others about the natural and cultural communities of Adams County.


Inquiry Experience 1

Setting and Estimated Time:  in the classroom, one language arts period

Learning Target: 

I can view images and listen to facts about Adams County and ask questions to learn out more about.

Formative Assessment:

Student conversations, questions, and notes on important features of Adams County may be used to formatively assess student learning.


1. Open the lesson by sharing his/her favorite thing/place in Adams County. Invite students to share with their partner their own favorite thing/place in Adams County. Teacher may share a few with the class.

2.Introduce the idea that students will become experts about Adams County, where they live and go to school, and will share their learning as researchers through informational texts that they write and illustrate.

3. Share and discuss the learning target:

I can view images and listen to facts about Adams County and ask questions to learn out more about.

4. Share Adams County PowerPoint (teacher-created) while students follow along on their print copy of the slides. 

5. Lead students in a discussion of the main idea of each slide (location within Adams County) and record main ideas and details in notes on bottom of print copy.

6. Elicit student interest to develop inquiry topics based on the discussion of the PowerPoint by asking questions such as the following: What do you notice is similar between the landforms? (compare) Why might these landforms be here? (cause/effect) How does our environment support a business like New Chester Dairy? (analyze) How might the the Castle Rock Dam important to our county?

7. Chart student questions on chart paper to reference through the unit. Guide students in determining which questions may be answered through research.

8. End a teaching share by restating the learning target. Ask students to think about what they know and what they wonder now about the natural and cultural communities of Adams County.

Inquiry Experience 2   

Setting and Estimated Time:  classroom and community, 2 days

Learning Target:

I can make connections between what I've researched (through interviewing) and resources in Adams County.

Formative Assessment:

Students will interview an adult and identify how their job is connected to our resources available in our county.


This lesson is inspired by Unit 4 Informational Writing, Lesson 13 from Grade 4 Units of Study in Writing, by Lucy Calkins,  Kathleen Tolan, et. al.


1. Teacher will introduce the Adams County Goods and Services Interview by explaining to students that they are going to investigate our local economy. They will be interviewing someone who works in Adams county and we will identify if they are producing a good or providing a  service for our community.

2. Review the questions with students and model being the interviewer and have a student be the “subject”. and active listening. For example, rephrase/restate what the speaker has said before recording notes.

3. Discuss other questions that you may need to ask to clarify. For example, do you understand what they said they do--- “What does a typical day look like at your work?”  may help students understand their daily duties.

4. Students will decide on a subject to interview and conduct interviews at home that evening. For those students who struggle with this, they can interview an employee at school. Examples may include: custodian, secretary, principal, teacher, cook, therapist, etc. 

5. The following day, have students present information one at a time to the class.

As students present, the rest of the class will be recording this job on a goods/services Venn diagram. Lead students as to where this job should be placed. Possible guiding questions:

“What good or service does this job provide?”

“Is is a good or a service or both?”

“Where does it go on our diagram?”

6. After each student presents their job interview, discuss as a class:

What resources are needed for this job? How does Adams County provide these resources?

7. Look for similarities across jobs:

Are there resources used by multiple jobs?

Are there similarities from one job to another?

What parts of our environment create some of our jobs in Adams county?

8. Follow up with a turn and talk to your neighbor. (cause/effect)

What did you learn are important resources to Adams county employees? 

What jobs are unique to our area? How is this linked to our environment? 

9. Close with a teaching share by adding new learning to class chart.

Inquiry Experience 3

Setting and Estimated Time:  classroom, one week

Learning Target:

I can teach others about Adams County. 

Formative Assessment:

Students will take notes, choose a structure for writing, and develop ideas to teach others about Adams County through a project to showcase their research.


1. Open with a discussion of different ways to teach others about a topic. Share a few examples of books and videos that are organized in engaging ways. Discuss how the structure of informational texts helps writers meet their purpose of writing. 

2. Discuss Adams County topics as a class and talk about how students might choose chronological, geography, or even question/answer formats to structure their writing. Sometimes it helps when writers write out section headers to organize their drafts. 

3. Ask students to meet in their topic groups and ask each group to come to a decision on a format that will best help them meet the purpose for their presentation.

4. Meet with each group after the mini-lesson to offer encouragement, instruction, and feedback as they synthesize information collected over the unit and write drafts of their informational texts.

5. Offer reminders or additional techniques during the mid-workshop teaching. 

6. Close with a teaching share through the development of the writing and the presentations.

7. End the unit with a reflection of learning and closing celebration. Evaluate as a class using the class rubric. 

Double check your plan for evidence of high quality instructional ELA materials as outlined by

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