Text Features - Make An Image In Our Minds!

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SWBAT examine the text features to see what information they contribute to comprehension of the text.

Big Idea

Those text features have lots of good information!



* I used this text because it supports our current Social Studies unit. The chapter has great text features that are common to a typical Social Studies/Science 2nd grade text. It's important to help kids realize they should be using reading strategies with these texts and everyday materials. Often kids think that 'reading is reading' and 'social studies is social studies', but this line no longer exists for the Common Core Standards. Instead of picking random informational texts, choose those that support the students' learning in other academic areas. This is powerful cross-curricular learning. Make sure the kids are familiar with the information and then introduce a text that supports what they are learning. It's a great way to bolster their academic learning and create stronger readers. 

 ** "Imaging" is the term that my district uses for "visualizing". In order to stay true to the district expectations, I'll continue to use this verbage. Visualizing is a critical skill for 2nd graders because they need to 'go deeper' in the text. By visualizing as they read, they are creating and tweaking images in their minds as they actively read. This kind of 'close reading', forming images using text, verifying and changing those images, and ultimately comparing their images to the author, creates critical readers and deepens comprehension.

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

  • "Today we are using the imaging/visualizing strategy with informational text. This strategy helps us organize information and connect ideas, which will be REALLY helpful in 3rd and 4th grade."
  • "This text has GREAT informational text features. They carry so much meaning and we need to look at these as we read."

Teacher's Turn

20 minutes

Introduce the task

  • "I brought this informational text because it has ideas about the Social Studies topic we are discussing. We talked about these ideas yesterday, but today we'll look at how the text organizes them and see if we can understand more. There are LOTS of ideas, so it would really help if you use imagery to see how the information is organized. Text features really help us to understand better because they add so much information that is shown in images, instead of just words."
  • Here's a video of my introduction.
  • Read the book to the class (remember you reviewed this information previously) and discuss how the ideas are organized. Ask the students what informational text features show the main ideas (headings) and what show the details (maps, captions, symbolsbold words, lists, diagrams).
  • Take a few moments to explain how text features help us. Here's how I explained this concept.


As we discuss these text features, the students identify other ways to comprehend informational text, beyond the words. They are using these various text features to locate information quickly that will aid in understanding (RI.2.5). As students use the text efficiently to comprehend information, I am encouraging students to draw on their own abilities to discover answers themselves rather than rely on adults to decode and reteach information from the text, an emphasis in the Common Core Standards.



  • "When I look at the text, I notice there are 'bold words'. These are a great informational text feature because they help me notice the important information in the text so that I can add to my mental image. I'll write 'bold words' on my chart. Now I need to describe how these help me. I'll write 'tell me which words are important to study for the test'."
  • Here's how I modeled the description of bold words. (text page 1)
  • I wrote this information on the whiteboard.


Guided Practice

  • "Now is your turn to help me. Let's take a look at the another text feature that helps us find places. It's called a map (text page 3).
  • "Who can tell me how the map helps us?"  (lead into 'helps us find places')
  • "This image of a map shows us lots of information - (capitals, locations....). Let's write that on the chart."  
  • This is the whiteboard at the end of the guided practice.

Students' Turn

20 minutes
Explain the Task


Students work


This students' explanation of how the specific images and text features contribute to and clarify text is really the goal of the lesson (RI.2.7). I am looking for them to be introspective and ask themselves questions such as, "How does this map help me?", or say things to themselves such as, "I should read the list because it has important information."

Organize and Connect Your Ideas

15 minutes

Reflect on your work

  • "Let's talk about how these features help us - what ideas did you write on your paper?"
  • "What images do these text features provide - a nice organized list, headings at the top of the page, captions under that pictures? These text features help us organize our thinking with visuals - images that we can remember better."
  • As my students shared their ideas, they were surprised to learn that they had different perceptions. One student shared that 'the list tells what I pay for' and another student said that 'lists tell me what I have to do." This is a great discussion item - "Can you reflect on why you are learning what you are learning? Are you learning the same things? Why are we looking at text features? Do you understand this information better today than yesterday when we just talked about the book?"
  • This is how one student described how text features helped her.

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

Students with academic challenges may need help formulating ideas about how the features help them and identifying those features in the text. I did provide some spelling help on the whiteboard and extra prompts for them.

Students with higher language may be able to a provide a better description of how these features help us with higher level vocabulary. I would challenge them to go beyond 'captions tell us what is in the picture' to 'captions share the meaning in the illustration.'