Building Research Skills: Researching Pollinators | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G2:M3:U2

Building Research Skills: Researching Pollinators

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In Unit 2, after students have gained sufficient background knowledge about plants, they are once again invited to wonder how we get the fruits, vegetables, and flowers we enjoy. This provocation invites students to learn about pollinators' role in pollination. Students engage in a variety of experiences as they answer the unit guiding question, "How do pollinators help plants grow and survive?" They learn about the different ways plants get pollinated, with a specific focus on how animal pollinators help pollinate plants. In the first part of the unit, students continue to build their research skills by conducting whole group and small group researching using the text What Is Pollination?

During whole group research, students learn about bees to answer the research question, "How do bees help plants grow and survive?" Students then conduct small group research on different kinds of insect pollinators using a similar research question. Throughout the unit, students work on creating models to explain their ideas, primarily in the form of scientific drawings. Students' learning culminates in the Unit 2 Assessment: an informative writing piece in which students explain how pollinators help plants through the process of pollination (W.2.2, W.2.5, W.2.7, W.2.8, L.2.2, L.2.6).

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How do pollinators help plants grow and survive?
  • Plants and animals depend on each other.
  • Scientists use models to explain an idea or describe relationships.

The Four Ts

Topic: Plants and pollinators

Task: Informational Writing: How Pollinators Help Plants

Targets (CCSS explicitly taught and assessed): W.2.2, W.2.5, W.2.7, W.2.8, L.2.2, L.2.6

Text: What Is Pollination?


Each unit in the K-2 Language Arts Curriculum has one  standards-based assessment built in. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English language arts standards and to be taught during the Integrated Literacy Block of the school day. The module also intentionally incorporates science content that many teachers across the nation are expected to address in second grade. These intentional connections are described below. (Based on your state or district context, teachers may also choose to address additional specific social studies or science standards during other parts of the school day.)

Science (based on NGSS):

  • 2-LS2-1
  • 2-LS2-2
  • 2-LS2-2
  • 2-LS2-2

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education's curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this module, students work to become ethical people by treating others with empathy and work to become effective learners by taking initiative and responsibility for their work, actions, and space. Throughout Unit 2, students reflect on their effort to take initiative as they engage in small group research and conversations with peers about the relationship between plants and pollinators.


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.

Accountable Independent Reading

The ability to read and comprehend text is the heart of literacy instruction. Comprehension is
taught, reinforced, and assessed across all three components of this primary curriculum: Integrated
Module Lessons, Integrated Labs, and the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block (see the
module overview).
For Unit 2, during the independent reading in the Skills Block, reinforce the comprehension
skills and standards that students are practicing during the integrated Literacy block:

  • RI.2.1: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
  • RI.2.2: Identify the main topic of a multi-paragraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.
  • RI.2.3: Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.
  • RI.2.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
  • RI.2.5: Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.
  • RI.2.6: Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.
  • RI.2.7: Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text

Supporting English Language Learners

The Meeting Students' Needs column in each lesson contains support for both ELLs and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and some supports can serve a wide range of student needs. However, ELLs have unique needs that cannot always be met with UDL support. According to federal guidelines, ELLs must be given access to the curriculum with appropriate supports, such as those that are specifically identified as "For ELLs" in the Meeting Students' Needs column.

  • Prioritizing lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: Consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 11-12 to provide additional independent and shared practice with writing informational paragraphs. This will give students more experience in applying knowledge of paragraph structure before their assessment, during which they will write informational paragraphs of their own. Consider placing less focus and condensing instruction on doing scientific drawings in Lessons 5-7, but be sure to complete the Language Dives in Lessons 4, 5, 6, and 9.
  • Language Dives: All students participate in a Language Dive in Lesson 4, and ELLs can participate in optional Language Dives in Lessons 5, 6, and 9. These Language Dives support ELLs and all students in deconstructing, reconstructing, and practicing the meaning and structures of sentences from What is Pollination? Many lessons also include optional Mini Language Dives for ELLs. The Language Dive goals remain the same as in previous modules; however, the new format goes beyond those goals by encouraging students to take more of a lead in the conversations and to build greater independence by taking an inquiry-based approach to language in general, and the selected sentence in particular. Refer to see the Tools page for additional information.
  • Conversation Cues: Continue to encourage productive and equitable conversation with Goals 1-4 Conversation Cues, which are questions teachers can ask students to help achieve four goals: (Goal 1) encourage all students to talk and be understood; (Goal 2) listen carefully to one another and seek to understand; (Goal 3) deepen thinking; and (Goal 4) think with others to expand the conversation (adapted from Michaels, Sarah and O'Connor, Cathy. Talk Science Primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC, 2012. Based on Chapin, S., O'Connor, C., and Anderson, N. [2009]. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Grades K-6. Second Edition. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications). Refer to see the Tools page for the complete set of cues.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Investigate the routines, practices, rituals, beliefs, norms, and experiences that are important to ELLs and their families. Integrate this background into the classroom as students explore an informational text taking place across different cultures and countries. Students will continue their study of plants and pollinators as they delve into the text What Is Pollination? Continue to invite students to discuss any flowers, fruits, vegetables, or pollinators that are significant in their home cultures. Invite students to share the names of different plants and pollinators that they may know in their home languages. Students will also begin research projects during which they will collect information and write paragraphs about pollinators. Be aware that some cultures place higher value on using evidence and source material to convey information. In addition, some cultures do not use the same text structure and style of organization to convey factual information. Consult with a guidance counselor, school social worker, or ESL teacher for further investigation of diversity and inclusion concerns.
  • Focused reading and identifying text features: Students will participate in a series of focused read-aloud sessions during which they will hone their comprehension skills and identify different text features. It may be difficult for some students to grasp the overall structure of nonfiction texts and to keep track of each text feature and its respective purpose. If necessary, provide additional time and support for students to navigate the structure of nonfiction texts using text features.
  • Writing informational paragraphs: Students will work in small groups to research and take notes about an assigned pollinator. As a class, they will create a shared writing informational paragraph about bees. Subsequently, students will write individual paragraphs about their pollinators for their Unit 2 Assessment. For students who need heavier support, consider grouping them together and working with them closely as they read, take notes, and write. Think aloud and ask probing questions to explicitly address the functions of the introduction, focus statement, supporting information, and conclusion. Provide additional writing time if necessary and possible.
  • Using adjective and adverbs: Students will identify and use adjectives and adverbs when singing the song "It's Pollination Time!" Make use of the color-coding system provided (yellow for adjectives, pink for adverbs) to help differentiate them and provide placement clues for students. Take time to sketch adjectives and act out adverbs to illustrate how they modify nouns and verbs, respectively. It may benefit ELLs to explicitly discuss the syntax (adjectives appear before nouns in sentences) and morphology (adverbs frequently end in -ly) of adjectives and adverbs, as well as their functions.
  • Celebration: Celebrate the courage, enthusiasm, diversity, and bilingual skills that ELLs bring to the classroom.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
What Is Pollination
by Bobbie Kalman
One per pair
ISBN: 9780778733065

Preparation and Materials

For basic lesson preparation, refer to the materials list and Teaching Notes in each lesson. The following are unusual materials that may take more time or effort to organize or prepare.
* Lesson 6: magnifying glasses (optional, one per student or pair of students)
* Lesson 7: research collection bag, recycling bin
* Lesson 9: magnifying glasses (optional)
* Lesson 10: popsicle sticks; materials for Volley for Vocabulary protocol (seven to eight words from the Plants and Pollinators Word Wall, written on separate index cards and taped to a beach ball)

Technology and Multimedia

  • YouTube - Introducing the concept: Students watch a video showing the process of seed germination. Students watch a video to learn about seed dispersal.
  • PBS Learning Media - Engaging Students: Students watch this video to learn about pollination.
  • Google Docs - Create shared writing in online format: Students' shared writing piece about pollination is recorded in a google document, which can be viewed by students' families.
  • SeeSaw - Record whole class singing: Students are recorded while singing "It's Pollination Time!"and this song is uploaded so it can be shared with students' families.
  • Document Camera - Modeling: Students watch as the teacher models closely observing photographs of bees. *Students view a model of high quality work closely.
  • - Engaging students; showing a model: Students watch a video to see the pollination process up close.Students watch a video showing a student presenter who models good presentation skills.
  • Kids Doodle - Drawing: Students can draw their scientific drawing using this app.
  • Vimeo - Modeling: Students watch a video that shows a student using a poster board during her presentation.
  • Video recording device - Recording: Students' presentations can be recorded to use as models for future students.


Labs are 1 hour of instruction per day. They are designed to promote student proficiency and growth.

There are 5 distinct Labs: Explore, Engineer, Create, Imagine, and Research. Each of the Labs unfolds across an entire module and takes place in four stages: Launch, Practice, Extend, and Choice and Challenge.

During their Lab time, students break up into smaller Lab groups and go to separate workstations (tables or other work spaces around the classroom). This structure creates a small collaborative atmosphere in which students will work throughout their Labs experience. It also supports the management of materials (since each workstation has its own materials).


Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


  • Involve the help of any family members who are avid gardeners. Invite them to visit the classroom and share their experiences growing various fruits, flowers, or vegetables.
  • If the school has a community garden, invite the students who helped to create it and/or care for it to visit the classroom and share their experiences.


  • Invite a gardener, botanist, or entomologist to visit the classroom and share their knowledge about plants and pollinators.


  • Take the class to a local community garden and invite students to share what they notice and wonder about the plants there. Invite students to look closely to observe any pollinators in the garden.
  • Take the class to a farmer's market or supermarket.


  • Contact the school groundskeeper/landscaper and invite students to help with the watering and care of plants around the school grounds.
  • Visit and share plant drawings with residents of an elderly community.


  • Plant bean seeds and care for them until they grow into plan

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