Improve Comprehension of Informational Text

Identifying Informational Text Features and Structures

Grade Levels: All
Social Studies Strands: All

Why: (Purpose)

  • Greater Engagement
    • Labeling guides students to dig further into text features
    • Encourages students to explore more than pictures in texts
  • Cooperative Learning
    • Promotes peer-to-peer discussion and reflection
    • Encourages the application of the strategy in small groups
  • Deep Learning
    • Develops academic mindsets and assessment skills
    • Develops strategies for critical analysis of complex texts
    • Establishes a purpose for reading informational texts
    • Deepens comprehension by identifying text organization

What: (Description of Strategy)

By including targeted explicit instruction of text features and structures, students develop the necessary skills to acquire deeper comprehension of informational texts. This spiraled strategy should be a part of each unit of instruction throughout the year and can be applied to other content areas.

It requires an initial whole group instruction on identifying the types of text features and structures or organization. It can then be used in whole group instruction, or in small groups or individually.

How: (How to Set Up the Strategy)

Text features will be identified with each weekly unit, however, text structures will vary depending on content.

  1. Begin by examining a Studies Weekly publication with students.
  2. Identify the unique characteristics that help identify the text as informational.
  3. Discuss the purpose and pinpoint an example of each of the following:
    • Heading
    • Subheading
    • Caption
    • Illustration
    • Photograph
    • Chart/Graph
    • Title of Maps, Charts, Graphs
    • Label
    • Emphasized terms or phrases (italicized, underlined, bolded)

Focus the inquiry on the connection between these features and the purpose of the article. This provides the opportunity to further analyze the article after reading.
Identify how the author’s text structure also supports the purpose of the article. Discuss the purpose and pinpoint an example of each of the following:

    • Description
    • Sequence/Instruction/Process
    • Cause/Effect
    • Compare/Contrast
    • Problem/Solution

All examples may not be applicable to each week, but by identifying and discussing these structures, comprehension deepens. It also helps provide models for their own writing.

Teacher Support Notes:

  • Text Structure Descriptors:
    • Description: Use of concise vocabulary to describe a topic
    • Sequence/Instruction/Process: Use of vocabulary that provides sequential instructions (i.e., Step 1, Step 2…), and/or transitional words (i.e., first, next, this, later, next, finally)
    • Cause/Effect: Use of vocabulary that identifies cause and effect (i.e., because, cause, effect, due to, led to, accordingly, as a result, consequence)
    • Compare/Contrast: Use of vocabulary that compares likenesses and differences (i.e., alike, both, comparable, in common, similar, difference, unlike)
    • Problem/Solution: The author identifies a problem or issue and a solution or resolution

Digital/Virtual Application of the Strategy:

  1. Display a digital pdf of any Studies Weekly unit.
  2. Create text boxes on the presentation of the shared screen. In each text box, place each of the nine identified text features.
  3. Prompt students to take turns identifying the examples of the features in the displayed unit. If the presentation is interactive, students may drag and drop the labels onto the example. If not, the teacher can make movements as described by the student.
  4. After reading the articles assigned, use graphic organizers to record collected information from the text to help identify text structures.

Face-to-Face Application of the Strategy:

This strategy could be applied to virtual or face-to-face instruction. The same expectations would apply face to face using a classroom projector. Another option is to print and laminate the Informational Text Feature Labels or the Reading Label Challenge page. Students use these labels independently or in small groups to place the labels on the examples in their print materials.

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