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Teaching Text Structures: Nonfiction, Expository & Description

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

In this lesson, you will learn some strategies for teaching students about the different types of nonfiction text structures that writers use to organize and present information to readers. These structures include descriptive and expository text.

The Importance of Text Structure

Imagine waking up one morning and deciding that you want to make banana bread. You pull your dusty cookbook off the shelf and open it up to find the recipe. The recipe instructions, however, are not written sequentially. You have no idea whether you're supposed to mash the bananas before adding them to the flour mixture or after stirring in the eggs. Without being able to rely on the author's text structure, your comprehension of the recipe is greatly affected. Students have similar needs when it comes to reading comprehension. Without knowledge of different text structures that authors use to present and organize information, students may as well be reading a different language. This lesson discusses some strategies for teaching students about nonfiction text structures.

Nonfiction Text

It's essential for students to understand that nonfiction writers make important decisions about how to present information in any given text. One way to introduce this topic is to use realia, or items that are used in everyday life, as teaching aids. Students will respond to teaching that incorporates familiar examples of nonfiction text from the world around them, such as restaurant menus, local event flyers, and magazine or newspaper advertisements.

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