Lesson: Non-fiction Text Structures: Author's Purpose: Graphic Features (Lesson 28)

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Lesson Objective

To get the complete idea of what the author wanted to tell you (the author’s purpose in writing) you need to read, understand, and connect all parts of the text, including graphic and text features.

Lesson Plan

Lesson 28:

Standard: Identify the purpose of common graphic features (for example, charts, graphs, maps, diagrams, illustrations, timelines).


Big Idea:  Writers use lots of evidence to support the main idea or theme.  These supporting details fill the text; they are found in every paragraph, all textual features, and all graphic features. 


Teaching Point: To get the complete idea of what the author wanted to tell you (the author’s purpose in writing) you need to read, understand, and connect all parts of the text, including graphic and text features.


Reading Workshop: Reading binders, pencils, copies of “Empty Bellies” and “Is It a Guitar? Is It a Ship? No, It’s a Building!”

Note: Students already have a copy of "Empty Bellies" from earlier in the unit. The second text (“Is It a Guitar? Is It a Ship? No, It’s a Building!”) is from the April 2009 edition of Appleseeds Magazine.

Read Aloud: copy of Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds, small post-its



Reading Workshop Lesson:

  • Scholars, this whole unit has been about how authors write in a way that makes sense – they want us to figure out the main idea or theme of their text, and they structure their whole text and their paragraphs in ways that help us make connections and understand the text better. Today I am going to teach you that to understand the author’s purpose – what the author really wants to tell you – you need to read, understand, and connect all parts of the text, including the graphic and text features.
  • Authors include everything for a reason. All the pictures, maps, graphs, and diagrams relate to what the author wants to tell us so we need to think about the purpose of each one.  To warm up, let’s look back at “Empty Bellies” – turn to that text in your binders. Let’s think of why the author included these graphic features.  [Go through them one at a time and talk about why they were included.]
  • Now, we are going to look at a new article and think more about the purpose of graphic features.  I am going to give you a copy of the article where I have taken out everything except for the main text.  I am going to read it to you and show you how I would think through it.  Then I am going to ask you how well you think you understood the text.  Then we are going to get another copy of the text – with all the graphic and text features and we’ll see if that makes it easier to understand. 
  • [Pass out picture-less version of “Is It a Guitar? Is It a Ship? No, It’s a Building!”
  • Read it to them with some think alouds to reinforce what we have been doing – notice the organizational structure is descriptive, notice that the first paragraph hooks the reader by asking a question, notice the purpose of some paragraphs maybe.]
  • Now, readers, I want you to think about how well you understood that text.  If you think you totally understood it all, write a 100% on the top of the text because you understood 100% of the text.  If you didn’t understand any of it, write a 0%.  If you think you understood it about halfway, write a 50%.  If you understood more or less than half of it, estimate with a percent how much you understood.  Don’t be embarrassed to write a low percent.   [Wait until they have all written a percent-challenge them not to all write 100%. I’m pretty sure that they cannot vividly describe The Dancing House or stainless steel roofs on the first read.]
  • Now, I am going to pass out a new version and we’ll see if this version is easier to understand.  [Pass out version with graphic features.]
  • Take a few minutes to look carefully at this version and see what you can notice.  What do you think is the purpose of each graphic feature?  [talk about each picture]  Now, we are going to read it again and connect what we are reading to the pictures and see if we understand it better.  [Reread.]
  • Now I want you to write down the percentage of this text that you felt like you understood.  [Pause]  Is it higher than the first version?  Raise your hand if you feel like you understood more of this text.  Why?  [Call on some kids.]
  • Readers, this is really important to remember.  Sometimes I see readers really look carefully at the pictures and then not read the text.  That is a problem because you can’t understand the text completely just from looking at the pictures.  But sometimes I see people read the text and barely look at the pictures.  This is also a problem because when you read nonfiction, you have to learn from the pictures.  They are there for a reason and you need to connect the graphic features and the text together so that you can completely understand everything the text has to tell you.  Why do we need to study the pictures?  [call on a few kids]
  • Today, if you find a graphic feature in your text, you may mark it and write down the purpose of that graphic feature with a small post-it note. When we share today, you should be ready to share the main idea or problem of your text and discuss the purpose of any paragraphs or graphic features that you noticed.
  • Students can complete multiple choice questions for “Is it a Guitar? Is it a Ship? No, It’s a Building!”



Read Aloud

  • Readers, we have been learning that in all texts we read, every paragraph has a purpose, and good readers always know what the purpose of each paragraph is. Today, we are going to continue looking at the purpose of the paragraphs as we finish Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds: The Story of a Food Web.
  • [Start reading at “Just before midnight…”]
    • “Just before midnight…” – descriptive/sequence
    • “It is late morning…”  - descriptive
    • ….more descriptive/sequence…
    • Last paragraph – summarizes/repeats the main idea of the text
    • Come up with a main idea for the book (or revisit the idea if you made a main idea prediction initially)

Lesson Resources

Lesson 28 Article (No graphic features).docx  
Lesson 28 No It's a Building Literal Questions.docx  


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