TEL Lesson Plan
Searching for Mark Twain

Grade Level: 6-8
Subject: Language Arts/ Reading
Time Frame: 1-2 Class periods


Compare and evaluate sources in a multiple format database.

Databases/Other Resources

Junior Edition; Student Edition


Discuss multiple research sources and discuss how a database gathers them into a single search interface. Search "Mark Twain" as a subject. Compare the results lists of the different document types.


Steps for Teacher

If necessary, explain the fundamentals of a research database: unlike the Internet, the information in a database has been selected based on its quality. Additionally, most content is available in print as well as in electronic form. This particular database has items from magazines, academic journals, books, newspapers, and also contains some audio and photos. Articles are organized and searchable by subject, title, author, publication, date, or keyword. Many, but not all entries contain the full text of the article. Others only contain information for finding the material in print.

1. Create a list of biographical and/or literary questions about Mark Twain that students will answer using Junior Edition or Student Edition. (eg. meaning of "mark twain," did he marry, place of birth, age at death)

2. Lead students in conducting a search on Mark Twain.

3. Lead discussion of materials found in the database.

4. After basic search is completed, divide students into groups and assign them to find the answers to biographical questions about Mark Twain.

5. Lead group discussion of students’ findings.

Steps for Librarian

Steps for Student

1. Access Junior Edition or Student Edition.

2. In the search box, type Mark Twain, select the radio button for “subject.”

3. Notice the tabs at the top of the search results.  Consider and discuss which types of materials will lead to answers for the questions you are researching. 

4. Once a tab has been selected, notice the column on the right indicating the type of material referenced.  Again, Consider and discuss which types of materials will lead to answers for the questions you are researching. 

5. In groups, find the answers to the biographical questions given by your teacher. Share your answers with the class.

Related Activities

1.    Read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Samuel Clemens.

2.    Write a biographical sketch of one of the characters in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

3.    Compare Mark Twain’s real life with the setting of Tom Sawyer.  Write an essay detailing the ways that Twain’s life circumstances may have influenced his book.


Content Standards

English/Language Arts--Grades 6-8

Standard 4 - Research

Standard 8 - Literature


Content Area Reading 3081

Standard:  The student will develop the reading skills necessary for word recognition, comprehension, interpretation, analysis, and evaluation of print and non-print text.

Learning Expectations/Grade Level Expectations

Standard 4 - Research

Grade Level Expectations:

GLE 0801.4.2 Gather relevant information from a variety of print and electronic sources, as well as from direct observation, interviews, and surveys.

GLE 0801.4.3 Make distinctions about the credibility, reliability, consistency, strengths, and limitations of resources, including information gathered from websites.


Standard 8 - Literature

Grade Level Expectations:

GLE 0801.8.2 Understand the characteristics of various literary genres (e.g., poetry, novel, biography, short story, essay, drama).

GLE 0801.8.3 Recognize the conventions of various literary genres.

GLE 0801.8.4 Analyze works of literature for what is suggested about the historical period in which they were written.


Content Area Reading 3081

Learning Expectations:

The student will use interactive strategies to derive meaning from text.

a) Use interactive strategies to access vocabulary by decoding words or identifying words in context.
b) Use interactive comprehension strategies to enhance understanding and to respond to text content.

The student will use appropriate strategies to respond to text.

a) Summarize content and filter relevant information in order to build a knowledge base.
b) Interact with text to connect to and form personal interpretations.
c) Interpret ideas, recognize logical relationships, and draw conclusions based on sufficient evidence.
d) Make connections to previous learning, other content areas, and personal experiences.

The student will evaluate and reflect upon learning strategies utilized to make meaning from text.

a) Discern reading strategies appropriate to text and the individual.
b) Apply the strategies and processes learned to a variety of texts and contents.

Performance Indicators State

Standard 4 - Research

Performance Indicators:

SPI 0801.4.2 Identify levels of reliability among resources (e.g., eyewitness account,
newspaper account, supermarket tabloid account, Internet source).

SPI 0801.4.3 Determine the most appropriate research source for a given research topic.

Standard 8 - Literature

Performance Indicators:

SPI 0801.8.2 Identify and analyze the author’s point of view (i.e., first person, third-person objective, third-person limited, third-person omniscient).

SPI 0801.8.4 Distinguish among different genres (e.g., poetry, drama, biography, novel) using their distinguishing characteristics.

SPI 0801.8.5 Analyze the development of similar themes across two or more literary texts.

SPI 0801.8.6 Identify and analyze how the author reveals character (i.e., what the author tells us, what the other characters say about him or her, what the character does, what the character says, what the character thinks).

SPI 0801.8.14 Identify the author’s purpose for writing.


ISTE Computer Literacy and Usage Standards

3. Research and Information Fluency

3b. Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources
     and media.

3c. Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.

4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

4c. Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.

AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner

1. Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.

1.1.4 Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.

1.1.5 Evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, importance, and social and cultural context.

1.2.2 Demonstrate confidence and self-direction by making independent choices in the selection of resources and information.