Text Structure Activities

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

These activities encourage upper elementary and middle school students to analyze the structure of texts and consider the importance of this reading comprehension strategy.

The Structure of a Text

As we teach students to be discerning readers, one tool for them to use is that of text structure. Learning to analyze the way a passage is put together helps students to slow down and spend meaningful time with the content of the passage, increasing their reading comprehension. These activities for upper elementary or middle school require students to examine text structure in different ways to encourage them to think of their reading more critically.

Activity: Illustrate a Text

Objective: Identify the way a passage is constructed.

Materials: A variety of informational text passages (articles, passages from other textbooks, etc.), materials to write and draw

  • Students work individually or with a partner.
  • Students select an informational text passage and read it.
  • Students identify the structure of the text (chronological, compare/contrast, problem/solution, cause/effect, descriptive, etc.).
  • Students create an illustration that uses colors and pictures to show the specific use of that text structure in their article.
    • For example, a student has an article about treating hairballs in cats. The student creates an illustration where half the paper is red and says ''problem'' on the top and shows a cat choking on a hairball. The other half of the paper is green and says ''solution'' on the top and shows a picture of the medicine recommended by the article.

Activity: Text Structure Sort

Objective: Identify the structure used in an informational text.

Materials: A variety of informational text passages (articles, passages from other textbooks, etc.), headings (chronological, compare/contrast, problem/solution, cause/effect, and descriptive)

  • Preparation: Hang category headings on the wall or board: chronological, compare/contrast, problem/solution, cause/effect, and descriptive.
  • Students work in groups. Each group gets a passage of informational text to read.
  • Groups identify the structure of their text. They write the name of the passage and a brief description of it on an index card, then they hang the index card under the appropriate category heading on the wall or board.

Activity: Planning Text Structure

Objective: Generate an article idea for different types of text structure.

Materials: Pencil and paper

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