Lesson: Non-fiction Text Structures: Author's Purpose: Graphic Features (Lesson 29)

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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 29:

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.


RW: Reading binders, pencils, copies of “Madagascar: A World Apart” (From National Georgraphic Explorer March, 2009 edition).

RA: copy of The Deep Sea Floor by Sneed B. Collard III, small post-its



Reading Workshop Lesson:

  • Scholars, we have been working on understanding the purpose of all parts of the text, including text and graphic features. All the pictures, maps, graphs, and diagrams you find in a text relate to what the author wants to tell us so we need to think about the purpose of each one. 
  • Now, we are going to look at a new article and think more about the purpose of graphic features.  [Pass out “Madagascar: A World Apart.” Preview the graphic features by identifying each one as a picture, caption, map heading, glossary, etc., and talk about their purpose.]
  • Now that we’ve studied all of the text and graphic features carefully, I feel like we’re ready to read this text. Let’s read and connect what we are reading to the pictures. [Read. Notice that this text has a descriptive structure. Stop to discuss the main idea and the purposes of some paragraphs, like the one that gives background information about Madagascar as an island and the sequence paragraphs in the lemur section. Refer back to the glossary as you come across bold words.]
  • Readers, remember that all of the parts of the text 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?  [T&T and share]
  • Today and every day, if you find a graphic feature in your text, you should notice it and think about its purpose. Today, as you read, you can mark graphic features 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.]
  • [Multiple choice questions for “Madagascar: A World Apart”]

Read Aloud

  • Readers, we have spent this week talking about text and graphic features and how the author has a purpose for including each of those features in a text. For the next several days, we are going to read a book that has a lot of text and graphic features, and we are going to stop each time we see them and discuss the purpose of those features. Then we are going to read the text that goes with it and see if that helps us understand the text better.
  • [Talk about the title.]  What will this book be about?  Make sure that they see that it is not just about the ocean or even deep parts of the ocean.  It will just be about the deep sea floor – what a specific topic. 
  • Read the first page.  Ask them what the purpose of this page is.  What is the purpose of the beginning of any text?  To hook you as a read and give you an idea of what it will be about.  This page introduces the topic by having you visualize one scene – one thing that happens on the deep-sea floor. 
  • Talk about the phonetic guide there.  I don’t know what a copepod is, but I can both figure out exactly what it means and how to pronounce it because Sneed Collard taught me both.  He uses a glossary to teach me the difficult words’ meaning (use and show them) and a phonetic guide to teach me how to pronounce it.  Show them how to read each syllable and how to put the accent in the right place. 
  • Turn to the next page and read the captions and look at the pictures.  Why did he include these pictures?  What is their purpose?  Do you think this book is going to be all about tripod fish and crinoids?  If not, why bother to put their pictures here?  Why not use photographs?  Practice using the phonetic guide – get one of them to show you how to read this word.
  • Read the captions on page 9 – get them to help with phonetic guides.  Discuss why authors include measurements in two forms.  Talk about how both meters and feet measure length so I can just choose which one I would rather read and I don’t need to read both.
  • Read the text on page 9.  Why did he include this?  Why include it because now we know it isn’t true?  T&T.
  • Look at picture.  The picture in NF should help us understand the text better.  So now, we need to read the text and see whether the picture helped us understand it.  Read text on page 10.  Why did Sneed include this picture?  What is the point of it?  What was the paragraph all about?  Does the picture help us understand that paragraph? 
  • Look at the diagram on page 11.  Why did Sneed include this?  What does this show?  Why didn’t he explain this in words instead of in a diagram like this?  There isn’t a caption.  How am I supposed to know what this is about?  Make sure they see that this supports the text on page 10, but it gives us more information. 
  • Practice using the phonetic guides to read the names of the levels. 


Lesson Resources

Lesson 29 Madagascar Literal Questions.docx  


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