Teaching Students to Recognize Different Nonfiction Text Structures
- Grades: 3–5
Content textbooks are often above the reading level of the grade for which they're intended. If some students struggle with grade level texts, how can they comprehend history and science textbooks?
One strategy that can aid students in breaking down informational text is understanding text structure. Research shows that an awareness of text structure facilitates a greater ability to recall important information in expository texts.
Knowing the elements of text structure is an effective tool in understanding nonfiction. Each structure can be identified using “signal” words. Words such as “then,” “next,” and “afterward” are indicators of a sequencing pattern. When students learn the key words and can recognize the predictable patterns, they will be better equipped to scan the text and pinpoint the information they seek.
I created text structure posters to teach my students about the most common structures found in nonfiction texts: description, sequential, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and problem and solution. (When you download the posters, right click on the link and choose "save target as," since it's such a large file.)