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Literacy Retreat 2013


Text Structures in Reading & Writing

Defining Text Structure

  • For a list of “pure text” examples sorted by each text structure, download this three-page document. All of these titles are available through The Literacy Store. Here are short expository passages that have been written by teachers to demonstrate each text structure type.
  • When targeting a specific text structure, make sure students are recognizing its characteristics. Which signal/transition words does it utilize? How are the details organized? What is the purpose of the writing? Fan out these text-structure questions for whatever type of text you’re working on. Make sure students can answer them and are noting the structure’s distinguishing characteristics.
  • More than just naming the text structure, students should be able to take notes based on a passage they are reading and complete a corresponding graphic organizer.

The Relevance of Text Features

Before students learn about the organization patterns of the main text, they have to have background knowledge on the visual text tools—text features. Digital Resource Designer Nadine Gilkison has created a whole series of instructional tools to introduce your students to text features.

  • Play the Text-Feature music video (below and to the left), to the tune of “Sponge Bob.” Students can follow along with the lyrics.
  • With an informational text in their laps, students use the Text-Feature Spinner to practice finding examples of each of the different types.
  • Students can create their own Digital Handbook of text features by finding online examples using QR codes embedded into this PowerPoint. (View the student directions via the video below and to the right.) Download the answer sheet for students to use, and check out this photo of three “pirates” on the hunt.
  • For a professional book of mini-lesson ideas and resources, check out Reading the Whole Page.

Resources for Transitions & Signal Words

Resources for Each Text-Structure Type

Chronological Text Structure

Enumerative Text Structure

  • Use the vegetable tray image with its different sections or categories to explain that enumeration is an ordered collection, naming items one by one.
    Access the matching Enumerative graphic organizer.
  • READING IDEA: As students read and learn about big concepts, they can take notes on the various aspects using foldables.
  • READING IDEA: When reading, teach students how to turn subheadings into questions. (This makes the section of text to follow “the answer.”) As students look across several pages of the textbook, they will begin to see the different categories or facets of a large concept that is addressed within each section.
  • WRITING IDEA: Using sticky notes and the ABC Chart, students first brainstorm details on a concept. Then, as they sort the details into categories (enumeration), they build their pre-write organizer of subtopics.
  • WRITING IDEA: Students can verify that their writing includes all required facets of a big concept by using the colored-highlighter technique.

Compare/Contrast Text Structure

Cause/Effect Text Structure

Problem/Solution Text Structure

Proposition/Support Text Structure

Writing & Pre-Writing with Text Structure in Mind