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How Scientists Communicate about the Living Things of the Rainforest

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The Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package for Grades 3–5

Use this guide to build additional literacy blocks alongside the module lessons.


In this first unit, students will explore the question: “What is unique about living things in the rainforest?” Students will begin by building background knowledge about unique living things in the rainforests and the scientists who study them. Students will also explore various forms of informational text as ways to communicate about rainforest scientists’ research. Students examine two types of informational texts, an interview and an article, for specific elements and how those elements inform the reader. During those close reads, students will also build their background knowledge about rainforests of the Western Hemisphere through a focus on vocabulary and finding the main idea.

The mid-unit assessment will gauge students’ mastery of comprehending an interview as an informational text by answering text-dependent questions for a given new and unfamiliar interview of a scientist doing work in the rainforest. Students will continue to gain knowledge about living things in the rainforest and apply the skills learned to explore one more type of informational text, a video, in order to continue to develop an understanding of the biodiversity of the rainforest. Through further close reads, an introduction to note-taking, synthesis, and comparisons of these informational texts, students will begin to formulate an opinion on what types of informational texts, based on their specific features, made it easiest for them to learn about rainforests and why.

Finally, the on-demand End of Unit 1 Assessment will measure students’ ability to comprehend unfamiliar selections from the interview they read during the Mid-Unit 1 Assessment. Students will also write an opinion paragraph that states which text they consider most helpful based on its features, and why.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • What is unique about living things in the rainforest? 
  • How do scientists communicate what they learn about the natural world?
  • Research is a process.
  • Scientists observe closely and record those observations in various ways.
  • Authors organize informational text in specific ways to convey scientific ideas and concepts.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies and Science content that many teachers may be teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

NYS Social Studies Core Curriculum:

  • The extensive biodiversity of North and South America produces unique biomes and species of plants and animals.
  • Geographic reasoning: Identify how environment affects human activities and how human activities affect the environment.

NYS Science:

  • Living Environment, Key Idea 6: Plants and animals depend on each other and their physical environment.
  • Living Environment, Key Idea 7: Human decisions and activities have had a profound impact on the physical and living environment.


Texts included in the unit

Texts that are included in the lesson materials.

Cover Text Quantity Publisher
Peterson First Field Guide to Birds of North America
by n/a
The Wings of the Butterfly: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest
by Aaron Shepard
Facts about Howler Monkeys
by National Geographic
I Want to Be a Rainforest Scientist
by n/a
Sloth Researcher: Bryson Voirin
by Expeditionary Learning
Amazon Rainforest
by Phyllis Barkas Goldman
Meg Lowman Interview: Questions and Answers
by Smithsonian
"Great Bear Rainforest Remote Camera Project”

Optional Activities

Invite zoologists, biologists, scientists, and botanists to come speak to the class.

Visit rainforest exhibits at zoos or museums.

Explore ways to support environmental education or rainforest protection.


  • Art: Create scientifically accurate drawings of the plants or animals of the rainforest.
  • Geography: Study more in depth about the specific characteristics of countries or world regions where rainforests exist

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