Ready, Set, Go! Chronological and Sequence Text Structure

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SWBAT identify nonfiction texts that are organized in the chronological/sequence structure.

Big Idea

Writers have a plan of attack in mind when writing nonfiction pieces in time order.

Activating Strategy

3 minutes

Ready, Set, TEACH! To kick off the specific text structures, I start with chronological because it is something the students usually know well.  Students will be learning the specific attributes of this structure and how to use key words to determine if a text is organized in the chronological structure. We'll also look at the reasons authors use this structure. 

Show a series of biographies or other sequential texts (textbooks, etc). Choose pictures that will make a connection with the students (i.e. Kobe Bryant, Taylor Swift, George Washington, etc). This is what I displayed for my activating. This will help students make more meaningful connections to the material and help with motivation.

 If you were writing these biographies, how would you organize all of the information for the reader?  

Give students time to think and then allow them a few seconds to discuss with a partner. When sharing out, I use numbered heads to be sure each partner talks, so I'll ask my 2s to tell my 1s what they think and then switch. I'll then call 1s or 2s to share what their partner said. I use this to try to work in ways for students to work on listening skills whenever possible. This also hits the common core speaking and listening skills (Summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence)


15 minutes

 I will refer to structure slides from this free powerpoint.

Provide students with the Chronological Text Structure notes. Students will place these in a notebook or binder and will use them as a reference as you work through the powerpoint slides on chronological.

Today we're going to learn about chronological text structure. Authors use this structure to explain how things happen in order. 

While students are following along, ask them to highlight key words that they feel are most important. This will help keep them on task and let them interact with the notes.This type of interactive note-taking gets students ready for close reading and models the expected thinking that happens when you read.

You will know you have a chronological text because you'll see words like first, next, then, last, etc.

Again, let students share thoughts and jot down ideas.

You will often see chronological structure used in directions. We'll look through an example and see if we can pick out some key words.  

Think aloud or let students help you here. Chances are this will be pretty easy for them, but I like to use the think aloud opportunities whenever possible.

The next two paragraphs we'll look at will require us to figure out which one is truly chronological.

Think aloud about the key words in each paragraph, and then think aloud about which one is truly chronological. Students should write these notes on their page

To allow students time to process the information learned, ask students to work with a partner to consider/answer the following questions: 

  • What types of books would authors write if they wanted to use this text structure?
  • What graphic organizers would an author use to plan this text structure?


I have students complete this on the notebook page adjacent to the notes. Students are also asked to do this in color since it's on the left (processing) side of their notebook. Here is an example of my pages. While students are working, I like to visit students who usually struggle. I pose questions to guide their thinking if necessary. For example, Do you like to cook or bake from a recipe? Do you read the instructions to a board or video game?  You only have to give students a few minutes to do this. Then, discuss student responses to these questions and fill in a few acceptable responses on the board.You could also have the students come up to fill these in on the board.

Knowing this structure makes it easier to summarize, which makes it easier to remember what you've read. When you know the specific structures well, you can use them to help you become a better reader. It's also important to think about why an author would choose this structure, because you will be an author of your own writing and will need to pick appropriate structures for your writing. Also, thinking about the author's decisions, will help you interact with the text more. The more you interact, the more you remember. 

Guided Practice

7 minutes

 Once students seem to have a firm grasp of the structure, begin guided practice with a chronological text and a flow chart graphic organizer. Here's a sample of my chronological text and organizer. I use copies of short pieces that they can color code and annotate.  For this lesson and this years' group of kids, I chose to use a simple paragraph to model my expectations first. Then I'll move onto longer pieces. The paragraph I chose is more of a 3rd grade complexity, but is only for instruction purposes for this lesson. You may choose something more difficult for your class depending on their levels. I have a wide range of learners, so I scaffold from the ground up. This guided practice is just for us to show students the expectations of finding the proof of chronological text and then organizing the information we find. We'll differentiate a bit more in the next section. 

In this section, I'll read the text with students and use highlighters or colored pencils to color each event in the sequence. Then I'll trace the outside of the flow chart boxes in corresponding colors. For example, the first detail in the paragraph might be green, so the first flow chart box will be traced in green. Check this out to see an example flow chart foldable. Sometimes it’s easier to show students a flow chart, and then let them create their own. This helps them understand how to organize the information at any time with any story. The Common Core standards are created to help our students dig into any text, so giving them the tools necessary to be successful is important. Again, I bought a package from teachers pay teachers, but you can use anything that you find works for this structure. I'll only be showing them one or two examples and then letting them finish up in groups. 

While students are working you can pull a small group, monitor all students and assist where necessary or make anecdotal notes while moving around the room. I pulled a small group and have included pictures of that here. I chose these students because they struggle a lot with sustaining focus on tasks, so I merely guided them to complete the task. They had no difficulty reading, but were apprehensive about picking the details to place on the graphic organizer. This will be even more difficult for them when we move onto the longer text. Main idea and key details is an area that my students are weak, so this all is part of my scaffolding for them. 

Small Groups

20 minutes

At this point I will meet with small groups. I need the time to work with my struggling readers to make sure they can work with this structure. The next day will also be set aside for small group work where students have a few workstations, but today is just to meet to review this one common core skill.

I'll be working with the same kiddos I pulled in guided practice. If I have one or two that seem like they could work with a small group, I'll let them try it out, but they know to come back to me if they feel lost. All students will read a text meaningful to your classroom and complete a sequence chart to record information learned from the text. For my small group, I use this time to guide the learning in a more difficult text. It also serves as a time for my struggling readers to read with my guidance. Currently, my students are learning about civics, so I am integrating some of my bill of rights material. I have these attached. You can use Bill of Rights with lexile 830  or Bill of Rights with lexile 790. I'll be using the lexile 790 because it's one page of text and fits well with my time and my students. While working with my group, we first do a choral read of the whole text to practice fluency. Then I'll read the first paragraph and think aloud about the key chronological ideas in that paragraph. I'll model underlining the first key detail in one color as well.

Even though I've found what I think is a good detail, I'm not going to place anything on the chart yet. I want to see what I've chosen in the whole text before I write anything down. Now, I'd like for you to try the next paragraph. Find what you think is a key detail in this paragraph and underline it. Be ready to discuss in a minute or two. Repeat this for the whole text.

I like to have them stop to discuss/defend thoughts at each paragraph so I can guide their thinking if necessary. We'll discuss ideas and revise if necessary and then add them to the organizer. 

My other small groups are heterogeneous and are no more than 5 in each group. They will work on the same passage with their teammates. Many times, I'll give my small group a small task to carry out, like reading their next paragraph, and then circulate the room to check in on my other students. I do this to support behavior expectations, monitor for work completion expectations and gauge how fast the other students are moving. Here is an example of some things I hear when monitoring the flow chart groups. When these groups complete the task, they will start a chronological writing extension activity that asks them to create a short passage using the chronological text structure. This supports the writing common core standards in informational writing which I teach during my writing block. Here is an example of my Sequence Chart Expectations


5 minutes

Pass out the reading selection on page 18 of the attached pdf. This is a free resource I found that contains information on all text structures. Students will read the short passage and create a graphic organizer on the back to record information learned. I show them this chronological check for understanding to explain my expectations. You can give students the graphic organizer already used in previous parts of the lesson instead if you like. I like to have them create one on their own so they know how to create this tool at any time while reading, but I have provided the organizer to struggling students when necessary. While students are working I move around the room to get an idea of how students are doing with this information. Collect these from students and check for understanding. I use this information to pull my small groups on the next day and then pass back to students to glue or staple into their interactive notebooks.