What is text structure and why is it important in elementary school?
What is text structure?
A text structure is a way a piece of text is organized. There are several types of text structures including:
- Chronological Order
- Cause & Effect
- Problem & Solution
Why is it important?
As students begin to better understand how and why texts are written with certain structures, they will be better able to comprehend the texts they are reading. For example, when students see dates in a text, they will understand that they are being told the sequential unfolding of certain events related to the topic. When they notice compare and contrast key words, they can read the text searching for similarities and differences between topics. As students begin to understand the frameworks of texts, the easier it will be for their brain to process the information in the text.
How do we teach it?
Okay, so you get it. Text structure is important. But how can you incorporate teaching these structures into your instruction?
First, teach your students the different text structures.
You can use posters, or make an anchor chart with your class. Teach key words that can help identify text structure (but make sure your students know that they should not ONLY rely on key words). You can grab these free posters down below.
Next, practice identifying the text structures as you read nonfiction texts.
I recommend reading a variety of texts on the same topic and looking at the different ways the texts are structured. You can choose specific paragraphs to examine and discuss why you think the author chose that text structure.
Write with a structure.
In order to get students even more comfortable with text structure, you can teach them to write a paragraph with a certain text structure. For example, if you are studying the rainforest, you can have your students write paragraphs about this topic.
- What happens when the trees in the rainforest are cut down (Cause & Effect)
- What makes a rainforest a rainforest (Description)
- How are tropical and deciduous rainforests alike and different? (Compare & Contrast)
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