Text Features Support Answers to the Questions! (Lesson 1 of 2)

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SWBAT use informational text features to locate information quickly and answer questions

Big Idea

Solve the puzzle about the text features that help find the answers in informational text!


  • Magnets by Darlene R. Stille
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: informational text, questioning, text features, illustrations, captions, headings, index, table of contents, glossary, bold print
  • Set up the whiteboard
  • 'Text Features Matching' worksheet - one for each student
  • Questions for the teacher (see resources in 'Students' Turn section) 


I chose this text because it's related to our science unit. Instead of picking a random informational text, it's easier to read about what you're studying in social studies and science. This cross curricular experience (reading about the social studies or science subject) helps students generalize  information they have learned. You could use any science/social studies text for this lesson. Make sure it has the same text features as the 'match' worksheet and make up new questions for the Teachers' Turn/Students' Turn portion.

This is a 2 part lesson because the book has lots of great information and I want to try different reading strategies with this text. The text is also listed as as 2.8 reading level, which is slightly above most of my students. By using this first lesson as a preview of the text with focus on text features, the students are able to understand some of the concepts and organization of the book. When we actually read the book in the second lesson, they can bring their background knowledge as well as our discussion from this lesson.

For the first lesson, we'll be finding answers and questioning with text features in the book. (RI.2.1) Students are using these text features to find evidence to answer questions in informational text, an emphasis of the Common Core Standards. We only preview the book in the lesson and don't actually use close reading. In the next lesson, we'll delve deeper into the text to ask and answer specific questions.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Common starting point

  • How do questions help us?"  Take ideas - think about what we read, share ideas, find new words, ....
  • "What are the text features in a book?"  reference the words on the board -I help kids distinguish literature and informational text words in this explanation.
  • "Why do we look at text features?" They have LOTS of information, support/verify the text, give a picture to a difficult concept, show examples


Get students engaged

  • "We're going to play a game today! You'll be trying to figure out where the text features fit into puzzle of questions!"

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

I have taught the reading strategy of 'questioning' with Informational Text in 2 previous lessons include 'Big Questions about Informational Text' and 'What Are You Asking About Informational Text?'  If you feel that your students need more review and instruction about how to answer questions and the type of questions, I encourage you to start with these lessons.


Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "Today we'll be finding text features and redefine how they help us understand the text better."
  • "You will identify where to find the answers to a question (based on text feature) and how that evidence supports your answer."


Introduce strategy - teacher models

  • "Before we use text features to find answers, we need to preview the book - take a look at each page, peek at the illustrations and look at what text features are in the book."  Make a list of these or put the words together on the board (with some examples of bold words and headings). They will need to refer to this list later in the lesson.
  • "Now that we've preview it, we can use text features to help us to find answers to questions quickly."
  • "I'll show you how easy it is to find answers with these features."
  • "Here's the first question - 'What is a compass?'  I would find this answer in the glossary because that's where we find out what words mean. The glossary has the evidence to answer my question."  Here a video of how to model using the text features.
  • "Here's another question - 'What shape is a magnetic field?'  This answer is in an illustration on page 11. I find support for my answer there." 


Practice strategy - guided practice

  • "Help me answer another question... What page has information about the push and pull of magnets?  What text feature would help me and where is the evidence?"  Take ideas... "Yes let's check the table of contents- it's there!"
  • "What kind of poles does a magnet have?  There's a bold word magnet in the book. That supports my answer."
  • "Finally, what pages have information about bar magnets?  Where would we find that word?  Yes it's in the index."
  • "This seems easy - just use the text features to find the answers and make sure they support our answer to the question."

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Assign Task

  • "Now it's your turn to identify which text features will help you answer a question and explain how that text feature is the evidence." Pass out the 'Text Features' worksheet
  • "On this worksheet, the top numbers go with questions that I'll ask. On the bottom, are text features that you'll match with the questions.
  • Take a moment and cut out the feature names. This is what it looked like when the students were cutting.


Direct the activity

  • Use the 'Questions' for text features to ask questions of the students.
  • "Listen to the question. Was it evaluative, literal or inferential? Which part of the book would help you with an answer? Slide up the feature name onto the number, but don't glue it yet."
  • Read the questions and let kids put the tabs on the numbers.  Here's a demonstration of me asking questions. Continue to reinforce that the text features are evidence to support your answer.
  • My students had difficulty with some features, but they did well with others. 
  • "Now that we're done, I'll go back and you can see where we find the answers and if they're right."
  • "Glue on your answers once they're right."  Here are my student worksheets. These students complete the activity with support from the teacher.


These text features, that they are defining and using to locate key facts and information in the text efficiently are vital to improving comprehension. (RI.2.5) Students are analyzing the structure of txts and how the features related to each other and provide information beyond the text and illustrations. By using this text and creating questions for students to answer with text features, I have created a carefully structured situation allowing students to solve problems more independently. This is a shift in the Common Core State Standards toward expecting active participation from the students as they draw on their own abilities and the teacher becomes more of a facilitator rather than a provider of information. 

Share What You've Learned

15 minutes

Apply what you know

  • "Now you get a turn.  Let me go through the book again."
  • "Pick a text feature and write a question for the rest of us on the back of your paper." Here's a video clip of a student writing a question and an example of another student's question.
  • "Who wants to share their question?"  
  • Let the kids ask questions, making sure the evidence is given. Ask them what kind of questions there are - inferential, literal or evaluative. Encourage the kids to challenge themselves and write more inferential or evaluative questions.


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

Students with academic challenges should be a able to participate in the 'matching' worksheet because answers can be moved around, based on the discussion. Writing a question might be more difficult, but you could write prompts or words on the whiteboards as prompts as I did in this video prompting a student with challenges..

To challenge students with greater ability, encourage them to write more inferential questions. They can use the 'question words chart' to choose more difficulty wording, such as 'could', 'are' or 'can' instead to the traditional 'wh' words.