Focus Questions: How do nonfiction authors use text structure to convey meaning? How does text structure help readers understand the author’s purpose?
When preparing for the lesson, choose one example of each text structure. Arrange the class into five groups. Assign each group a text structure and a passage to read. Don’t tell students which text structure they are going to be reading about.
Show students the Nonfiction Text Structures Information Page (L-6-4-1_Nonfiction Text Structures Information Page.doc) that has been re-created on the board/chart paper/interactive whiteboard. Read aloud the five text structures and review the characteristics of each. Explain that students will read a nonfiction passage and answer the following questions:
- Which text structure is used in the passage?
- What clues in the text indicate the text structure (e.g., key words or sentences, arrangement of ideas, text features)?
- How does the text structure help the reader understand the author’s purpose?
Give each student a passage and the Nonfiction Text Structures Information Page. When students are finished reading the passage and filling in the information page, have them discuss with other group members what text structure was used in their passage, what clues they found to indicate the text structure, and how the text structure helps them understand the author’s purpose. Move around the room to facilitate discussion in the groups. Help students understand how transition words or sentences, repetition of key words or ideas, and use of text features support text structure.
Have one student from each group move into new groups so that you now have five new groups with at least one student who is an “expert” on each text structure. Have each expert present his/her passage and the text structure, pointing out evidence that indicates text structure to the group. Other students in the group should make notes on their information page as the student is presenting. Each student should then have the information page filled in with information about all of the text structures.
Bring students together and fill in the information page on the board/chart paper/interactive whiteboard. Tell students to make sure that they have the correct information on their individual information page. Give them an opportunity to make changes at this time.
- To assess students’ grasp of the concepts, have students read a short passage from their science or social studies textbook that has a distinct text structure. Give them time to read the passage and write on a sticky note the text structure and why the author used that structure. Have students hand in their sticky notes. Determine if students are successful in meeting the goal of determining the text structure and its purpose. Provide additional instruction if needed.
- Have students choose a topic to research. Then have them choose the most appropriate text structure to use to present the information. Have them explain why they chose that text structure. You may need to provide students with a list of topics that work well with the text structures that have been studied.
- Use copies of student work from previous years (without names) for students to analyze for text structure.