Text Feature Activities for Middle School

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

Help students analyze text features by conducting these partner and team activities. Students will have the chance to carefully preview text features to predict content; they'll be able to add their own text features as well.

Text Feature Activities

Text features, such as a table of contents, boldface terms, and diagrams, help readers understand important content. Students often overlook or misinterpret these features. These activities will combat that tendency by engaging students in content prediction, as well as careful analysis and creation of a variety of text features.

Fill in the Blanks

Many times students overlook text features. In this activity, students are provided with only the text, sans any text features. Blank spaces are placed throughout the passage for students to add text features that would be helpful to a reader.

Provide students with a plain text article about a relatively familiar topic. Prepare in advance to include blank areas for text features, such as headings, subheadings, illustrations, diagrams, sidebars, and key terms. Partner students so they can digest the information and brainstorm ideas together. After brainstorming is complete, have students work independently to add text features to their passage.

Add a sharing element by allowing students to circulate through the room, partnering with different classmates to share their text features. They can compare the features they selected and discuss the effectiveness of including each one.

  • Material: Class set of passages with text features removed

Finding Clues

A good comprehension habit is to preview the text features before reading. In this activity, students will explore only the text features and make predictions about the content. Then, they will explore the entire text, including both features and content.

Find a passage in a textbook or online that includes a variety of text features, such as diagrams, illustrations, key terms, sidebars, headings, and subheadings. Take only the text features and project or print them for students. Partner students and provide them each a graphic organizer that will help them analyze the text features. One option is a simple T-chart, with predictions in one column and information from the text in the other. A Venn diagram would also work well, with their predictions in one circle, text details in the other, and things they both have in common in the middle section.

After providing students adequate time to review the text features and make predictions, provide them with the passage including both content and text features. Students can then compare their predictions with the content itself. Have students debrief by discussing how their predictions matched up with the content, based only on text feature analysis. Emphasize the importance of scanning text features as a pre-reading strategy.

  • Materials: One version of a text showing only the features, one version of the same text with content included, and a graphic organizer of your choice

Magazine Marvels

When reading magazines, students may not notice the valuable information provided in the text features. In this activity, students preview a magazine, track several types of text features, and explain the purpose and effectiveness of each.

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