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Exploring Craft and Structure in Informational Texts

Lesson Plan

Exploring Craft and Structure in Informational Texts

Objectives

Students will explore craft and structure in nonfiction texts. Students will:

  • identify the organization of different types of informational text structures, such as cause/effect, problem/solution, question/answer, comparison, and chronology.
  • explain how authors organize informational texts based on text structure.
  • identify language that signals to the reader how a nonfiction text is structured.
  • determine the type of text structure used in a particular informational text.

Essential Questions

  • How do strategic readers create meaning from informational and literary text?
  • What is this text really about?
  • How does interaction with text provoke thinking and response?

Vocabulary

  • Cause/Effect: Causes stem from actions and events. Effects are what happen as a result of the action or event.
  • Compare: Identify common features in texts.
  • Contrast: Identify differences in texts.
  • Craft: An author’s skill in writing a text.
  • Informational Text: Nonfiction written primarily to convey factual information. Informational texts comprise the majority of printed material adults read (e.g., textbooks, newspapers, reports, directions, brochures, technical manuals).
  • Literary Elements: The essential techniques used in literature (e.g., characterization, setting, plot, theme).
  • Nonfiction: Prose writing that is not fictional; designed primarily to explain, argue, instruct, or describe rather than entertain. For the most part, its emphasis is factual.
  • Problem/Solution: An organizational structure in nonfiction texts in which the author typically presents a problem and possible solutions to it.
  • Text Analysis: The process or result of identifying the parts of a text and their relationships to one another.
  • Text Structure: The author’s method of organizing a text.

Literary Structure: An organizational structure found in fiction or literary nonfiction (e.g., character, plot, setting, theme).

Nonfiction Structure: An organizational structure found in nonfiction (e.g., chronology, question/answer, cause/effect, problem/solution).

Duration

90–120 minutes/2–3 class periods

Prerequisite Skills

Prerequisite Skills haven't been entered into the lesson plan.

Materials

  • Question-and-answer books were chosen because of the signal words used in the texts, such as therefore, so, this, led, and because. The signal words make it easy for students to identify this type of text. The structure of the text is also easy for teachers to use in modeling how questions are posed with easily identifiable answers. Examples include the following books:
    • 1000 Questions and Answers by Robin Kerrod. Kingfisher, 2002.
    • Don’t Know Much About the 50 States by Kenneth C. Davis. HarperCollins, 2004.
    • I Wonder Why Zippers Have Teeth: And Other Questions About Inventions by Barbara Taylor. Kingfisher, 2012.
    • Everything Bug: What Kids Really Want to Know About Insects and Spiders by Cherie Winner. NorthWord Press, 2004.
  • Chronology books were chosen because of the signal words used in the texts, such as first, second, then, next, last, after, and finally. The signal words make it easy for students to identify this type of text. The structure of the text is also easy for teachers to use in modeling how facts and events are presented in order of occurrence and how authors trace the sequence of steps in a particular process. Examples include the following books. Teachers may substitute other books to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.
    • My Puppy Is Born by Joanna Cole. Mulberry Books, 1991.
    • How Kittens Grow by Millicent E. Selsam. Scholastic, 1992.
    • The Buck Stops Here: The Presidents of the United States by Alice Provensen. Viking Juvenile, 2010.
  • Comparison books were chosen because of the signal words used, such as same as, alike, similar, resembles, different from, compared to, unlike, yet, and but. The signal words make it easy for students to identify this type of text. The structure of the text is also easy for teachers to use in modeling similarities and differences among facts, concepts, and people. Examples include the following books. Teachers may substitute other books to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.
    • Fire, Fire by Gail Gibbons. Harper Collins, 1987.
    • Gator or Croc? by Allan Fowler. Children’s Press, 1997.
    • Outside and Inside Giant Squid by Sandra Markle. Walker Books for Young Readers, 2005.
  • Cause/effect books were chosen because of the signal words used, such as if, so, as a result, in order to, and if/then.The signal words make it easy for students to identify this type of text. The structure of the text is also easy for teachers to use in modeling causes of a particular event and their resulting effects. Examples include the following books. Teachers may substitute other books to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.
    • What Makes Day and Night? by Franklyn M. Branley. HarperCollins, 1986.
    • What Happens to a Hamburger? by Paul Showers. HarperCollins, 2001.
    • How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro. HarperCollins, 1993.
  • Problem/solution books were chosen because of the signal words used, such as so that, as a result, and this led to. The signal words make it easy for students to identify this type of text. The structure of the text is also easy for teachers to use in modeling a problem and the solution. Examples include the following books. Teachers may substitute other books to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.
    • A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History by Lynne Cherry. Sandpiper, 2002.
    • Cars and How They Go by Joanna Cole. Trophy Press, 1986.
    • If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine. Scholastic Paperbacks, 1993.
  • Puzzle Piece Template (L-5-2-1_Puzzle Piece Template.doc). Note: you will need to make five copies of the template and cut apart the pieces in advance.
  • student copies of Understanding Informational Text Structures worksheet (L-5-2-1_Understanding Informational Text Structures.doc)
  • chart paper
  • sticky notes

Related Unit and Lesson Plans

Related Materials & Resources

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  • Question-and-answer books were chosen because of the signal words used in the texts, such as therefore, so, this, led, and because. The signal words make it easy for students to identify this type of text. The structure of the text is also easy for teachers to use in modeling how questions are posed with easily identifiable answers. Examples include the following books:
    • 1000 Questions and Answers by Robin Kerrod. Kingfisher, 2002.
    • Don’t Know Much About the 50 States by Kenneth C. Davis. HarperCollins, 2004.
    • I Wonder Why Zippers Have Teeth: And Other Questions About Inventions by Barbara Taylor. Kingfisher, 2012.
    • Everything Bug: What Kids Really Want to Know About Insects and Spiders by Cherie Winner. NorthWord Press, 2004.
  • Chronology books were chosen because of the signal words used in the texts, such as first, second, then, next, last, after, and finally. The signal words make it easy for students to identify this type of text. The structure of the text is also easy for teachers to use in modeling how facts and events are presented in order of occurrence and how authors trace the sequence of steps in a particular process. Examples include the following books. Teachers may substitute other books to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.
    • My Puppy Is Born by Joanna Cole. Mulberry Books, 1991.
    • How Kittens Grow by Millicent E. Selsam. Scholastic, 1992.
    • The Buck Stops Here: The Presidents of the United States by Alice Provensen. Viking Juvenile, 2010.
  • Comparison books were chosen because of the signal words used, such as same as, alike, similar, resembles, different from, compared to, unlike, yet, and but. The signal words make it easy for students to identify this type of text. The structure of the text is also easy for teachers to use in modeling similarities and differences among facts, concepts, and people. Examples include the following books. Teachers may substitute other books to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.
    • Fire, Fire by Gail Gibbons. Harper Collins, 1987.
    • Gator or Croc? by Allan Fowler. Children’s Press, 1997.
    • Outside and Inside Giant Squid by Sandra Markle. Walker Books for Young Readers, 2005.
  • Cause/effect books were chosen because of the signal words used, such as if, so, as a result, in order to, and if/then.The signal words make it easy for students to identify this type of text. The structure of the text is also easy for teachers to use in modeling causes of a particular event and their resulting effects. Examples include the following books. Teachers may substitute other books to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.
    • What Makes Day and Night? by Franklyn M. Branley. HarperCollins, 1986.
    • What Happens to a Hamburger? by Paul Showers. HarperCollins, 2001.
    • How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro. HarperCollins, 1993.
  • Problem/solution books were chosen because of the signal words used, such as so that, as a result, and this led to. The signal words make it easy for students to identify this type of text. The structure of the text is also easy for teachers to use in modeling a problem and the solution. Examples include the following books. Teachers may substitute other books to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.
    • A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History by Lynne Cherry. Sandpiper, 2002.
    • Cars and How They Go by Joanna Cole. Trophy Press, 1986.
    • If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine. Scholastic Paperbacks, 1993.
  • Puzzle Piece Template (L-5-2-1_Puzzle Piece Template.doc). Note: you will need to make five copies of the template and cut apart the pieces in advance.
  • student copies of Understanding Informational Text Structures worksheet (L-5-2-1_Understanding Informational Text Structures.doc)
  • chart paper
  • sticky notes

Formative Assessment

  • View
    • During the lesson, keep the focus on establishing a clear understanding of nonfiction text structures. Observe groups while they are working and note students who have difficulty understanding text structures.
    • When the class understands all of the nonfiction text structures, allow students to identify books that utilize one or more of the structures and create a class book list.
    • Use the following checklist to evaluate students’ understanding of different text structures:
      • Student demonstrates the ability to identify the text structure of an informational text.
      • Student provides examples of how the text structure is used in an informational text.
      • Student lists text features that are important to understanding the text structure used in an informational text.
      • Student lists signal words that are used in an informational text.

Suggested Instructional Supports

  • View
    Active Engagement, Explicit Instruction
    W: Help students activate their prior knowledge by analyzing nonfiction text structures of informational books and sharing their knowledge of these structures with peers. 
    H: Introduce or review nonfiction text structures and have students develop definitions. 
    E: Provide opportunities for students to determine the organization of information and demonstrate understanding of the connections between the ideas presented. 
    R: Encourage students to share their knowledge of nonfiction text structures by connecting individual puzzle pieces to see that all the text structures form a complete puzzle.  
    E: Have students demonstrate understanding by identifying the text structures of a variety of informational texts. 
    T: Use texts at a variety of levels of complexity and provide opportunities for students to work together in a large group, small groups, and individually to identify nonfiction text structures. 
    O: The learning activities in this lesson provide for large-group instruction and discussion, small-group exploration, and individual application of the concepts. 

Instructional Procedures

  • View

    Focus Question: How does an author use craft and structure to organize ideas in informational books?

    Say, “When authors write nonfiction, they often research to gain information. They also organize information logically by using various nonfiction text structures. If you understand organizational patterns, you will be able to follow the author’s message.”

    Part 1

    Write on chart paper the following five most common nonfiction text structures:

    • question/answer
    • chronology
    • comparison
    • cause/effect
    • problem/solution

    Have students brainstorm the definitions of these nonfiction text structures. Guide students to develop the following definitions:

    • question/answer: Questions are posed and answers are identified in the text.
    • chronology: Facts, events, or concepts are presented in order of occurrence. Authors trace the sequence of steps in a process that is often found in social studies and science textbooks.
    • comparison: Similarities and differences among facts, concepts, and people are identified. This structure appears in the middle or end of a text after two or more subjects have been explained individually.
    • cause/effect: Causes and the resulting effects are presented. Authors attempt to explain why something happens—how facts or events (causes) lead to other facts or events (effects).
    • problem/solution: A problem and one or more solutions are described.

    After each definition listed on the chart paper, write the following signal words associated with each nonfiction text structure:

    • question/answer: therefore, so, this led to, because
    • chronology: first, second, third, then, next, last, before, after, finally
    • comparison: same as, alike, similar to, resembles, compared to, different from, unlike, but, yet
    • cause/effect: if, so, so that, because of, as a result of, since, in order to, cause, effect, therefore, consequently, if/then
    • problem/solution: because, since, as a result, so that, this led to

    Have students identify text features often found in nonfiction books. List their responses on the chart paper. The list should include the following text features:

    • table of contents
    • glossary
    • titles/headings
    • photographs/captions
    • diagrams
    • charts
    • graphs
    • timelines

    Discuss ways that text features may help readers identify text structures.

    Arrange students in groups of five. To each group, distribute a set of books that use one of the text structures (question/answer, chronology, comparison, cause/ effect, problem/solution).

    Say, “Each group will be responsible for reading different informational books and identifying the text structure being used. Each group will have a different text structure, so be prepared to share your findings with the class.”

    Have students record the following information on the Understanding Informational Text Structures worksheet (L-5-2-1_Understanding Informational Text Structures.doc).

    1. Survey the text. Have students scan the text and note the general purpose of the text.
    2. Identify the signal words. Have students use sticky notes to locate the signal words and then record them on their worksheet.
    3. Identify text features. Ask students to note any important information located in the table of contents, titles/subtitles, bold words, photographs, captions, diagrams, charts, graphs, and timelines, which may all provide clues about which text structure is being used in their books.
    4. Identify the structure of the text. Have students discuss what they think the main structure of the text might be.
    5. Read the texts. Have students read their informational texts.

    As students work, walk around the room and guide groups to identify the correct text structures used in their informational texts.

    Part 2

    When a group is finished, give each group member a puzzle piece with the nonfiction text structure the group explored (L-5-2-1_Puzzle Piece Template.doc). Note: you will need to copy the templates and cut apart the pieces in advance.

    Say, “The members of each group have been given a puzzle piece with a nonfiction text structure written on it. Return to your desks so that we can form new groups.”

    Have students from each original group form new groups that will consist of one student from each of the previous text-structure groups. Have the new groups each meet in various locations in the room.

    After all groups are formed say, “Each of you is now a text-structure expert, and you will be responsible for sharing the information you learned about the text structure you examined in your first group. Use the information you recorded on your worksheet to guide your discussion. As you share your text structure, put your puzzle piece in front of you. By the time everyone in your group has finished sharing, you will have connected each of your individual puzzle pieces to make a complete puzzle.”

    Extension:

    • To reinforce understanding of craft and structure in informational texts, have students create their own text-structure puzzle. Tell them to cut a sheet of paper into five irregular shapes and then list a nonfiction text structure on each piece. On the back of each piece, have students list books with that structure. Encourage students to use magazines, newspapers, or chapters from their science or social studies texts. Students may need to go to the local or school library to complete this activity.
    • To further explore nonfiction text structures, post the five types of nonfiction text structures on chart paper and have students record in the correct categories the titles of informational texts.
    • For students who need additional opportunities for learning nonfiction text structures, offer nonfiction magazines or content-area books to help them identify the different text structures. Using text with less complexity allows students to focus on the different text structures instead of trying to figure out vocabulary and word meanings. Suggested titles are listed in Related Resources.

Related Instructional Videos

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Final 03/13/2013
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