Text Features-Let's Make Some Inferences

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SWBAT identify and use the text features in a chapter to make inferences about key ideas in the text.

Big Idea

Text features - FULL of information! Build on that and make inferences.


  • Any informational text with a variety of text features. I used our Houghton Mifflin Social Studies book-pages 320-325.  Read the text with the students before teaching this lesson and discuss the vocabulary and concepts. This is a follow up lesson that should happen the next day to help students use the schema reexamine the text features.
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall:informational text, heading, diagram, bold words, caption, picture, map, (any other text features that your text has)
  • Set up the whiteboard 
  • 'Use Those Text Features' worksheet** (see below)
  • 'Inference Starters' poster  (I used this throughout my inferencing unit)
  • Informational Text Feature Headers** (see below)


**I tweaked this lesson the second time that I taught it for 2 reasons. There was too much writing on the original worksheet, so I took out some of that. I also cut apart several copies of the 'headers' and passed a few cards to each student so they could look for specific text features. They really enjoyed that.

The reason that I've featured this lesson is that 2nd grade students typically need the chance to practice using text features with familiar text. The first time they read a text (Social studies book, science text), they read for information, but typically do not garner what they can from the text features. I want them to look through the text again, focusing on these text features to go beyond the literal meaning and make inferences about ideas that the author presents.

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

  • "We are going to look over the chapter today that we read yesterday. There were lots of great text features that carry TONS of meaning."
  • "I have put up a list of text features on the board. Let's go through those quickly to see if you remember what they are."
  • Go through the word cards on the board and identify each text feature (bold words are the dark words, a caption tells what the picture is about...)


Take time to go through these features as quickly or slowly as your students need. I have taught multiple lessons about these features, so my students are very familiar with them. If you have not taught many lessons, then take a few moments to go through each one. The ability to know and use various text features to locate facts and information allows kids to better comprehend the text. (RI.2.5) It's worth the time to continually emphasize what the features are and model how the add meaning to the text. Too often, 2nd graders gloss over the diagrams, charts, and tables and focus on the text only. Taking time to model your thoughts ("that chart really helps me to see the kinds of democracy") allows the kids to see what they should be getting from these features.

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "Today we are going to look over our chapter again to see what information the text features show and inferences that we can make about these."
  •  "Once we have chosen a text feature, we'll list what it means and then make an inference about why the author included it. Authors use these text features to give us more information and we need to take the time to look at them."


Introduce strategy - teacher models

  • "As I look at page 120, I notice there is a bold word that says 'democracy'."
  • Here's the page with the word 'democracy'.
  • "That is a very common text feature. I'll write that word in the first column and think about what the bold word tells me."
  • "I know that it shows that it is an 'important word' so I'll write that on the 2nd column."
  • "Now I'll make an inference. Why did the author include this bold word?  I think he wanted me to know that 'democracy is an important word that might be on the test'. I'll write that in the 3rd column."


Practice strategy - guided practice

  • "Let's try one together. I see a great diagram on page 321 so I'll write 'diagram' in the first column. Tell me again what a diagram is." Take ideas - 'it shows how ideas relate to each other'.  "I'll write that in the 2nd column.
  • "Why would the author include this diagram?"  Take ideas.  "Yes he wanted to show how 'democracy can happen in different places'.  Write that in the 3rd column."
  • Here's what our discussion about the diagram sounded like.
  • "Did anyone notice the colors of the print?  Why are the top words red and bottom words blue?  Take ideas - the red words are places and the blue words are examples."
  • "So we have bold words and diagram as great text features that add more meaning to the text." Here's how I reviewed the use of bold word and diagrams.
  • This was the completed whiteboard (tweaked with less writing).


The diagram in this text is a perfect opportunity to show the kids how specific images (diagrams, charts, etc) clarify and add meaning to the text. (RI.2.7)  The Common Core Standards emphasize the use of these text features because they want students to realize the meaning that they add to the text. Through modeling and guided practice, encourage your students to take the time to look over the diagram or chart and analyze and infer, "What is it showing me?  What meaning can I bring from this text feature?".  This will seem very unnatural at first, pausing and talking out loud about each feature, but ultimately you're trying to make the kids more introspective and develop a habit of stopping at each text feature to analyze the meaning and add that to the text. This component of the inferences that I'm asking students to make about the text features really captures the “craft and structure” element of the standard - that the author is making strategic choices to convey information through different text features (RI.2.5).

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Assign Task

  • Let students identify more text features and describe what they are for and make inferences about them.
  • Pass out the worksheet - "Now you'll finish the worksheet by describing the other text features in the chapter and what inferences you can make about their meaning."


Students Work Independently

Share What You've Learned

15 minutes

Share what you know

  • I used the strategy of 'turn and share' with the kids so they could tell a friend what they have learned.
  • "Now take 5 minutes to turn to your partner and share your ideas. Tell them which text feature really gave you a lot of information and perhaps which text feature didn't really help you."
  • "When we're done, I'll call on individual students to share their ideas."


I find that this 'turn and share' technique works well to give all of the kids the opportunity to tell what they have learned. You do have to set expectations for this technique the first few times you use it. I give the kids clear time lines - this is how much time you have - this is when you should switch. I also let them know that I'll be walking around listening to the ideas so they need to stay on topic. The kids are all expected to share equally and they know that I'll randomly call on a group to tell what one partner shared to the other partner. Setting up these expectations early in the year and giving the kids practice makes this activity rewarding, fun and reflective for the kids.


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

This lesson is great for kids with learning challenges because you step away from the wordiness of the text and focus on more illustrations and visual organization. That being said, asking them to explain in words what they infer can be more difficult. I would pair them up with a partner or work with them in a group. Allow them to share verbally and then help them write their ideas. Kids with learning challenges REALLY need to use the text features because the wording is often limited but the visuals offer lots of great information.

Challenge those with greater ability to dig deep and get deeper inferences. Instead of just saying that 'the diagram shows the parts of government', ask them to use more vocabulary and deeper descriptions, such as 'the branches of government and their organization are shown in the diagram.