Text Structures are the ways informational text can be organized. Understanding Text Structures and the purpose of each is an imperative part of the Common Core. In fact, at the bottom of each standard, included in the Note on range and content of student reading, it states that, “Through extensive reading of stories, dramas, poems, and myths from diverse cultures and different time periods, students gain literary and cultural knowledge as well as familiarity with various text structures and elements.” It is believed by some that Text Structures will be emphasized in the new standardized tests that are being developed so it is a good idea to spend a sufficient amount of time on these. Therefore, this is a four week unit where students will first become familiar with each of them, then identify each of them in new text, and finally use each of them in their writing.
Connection: I always start by connecting today’s lesson to something kids have previously learned so that it triggers their schema and background knowledge. Since this is the first time they are learning about Text Structures this year, I start by asking them about different ways that they might organize their writing. They will probably share answers like lists, paragraphs, essays, poem stanzas, etc.
Teaching Point: This is when I tell kids explicitly what we will be working on. I say, “This week, we will be focusing on 5 different Text Structures, which refers to how the information within a written text is organized. Hand out the anchor chart, which is made by davisandsloanELA.wikispaces.com (see resource). I copy this small enough for students to glue into their Reader’s Notebooks. That way, they can refer back to it any time they need to throughout the unit. I briefly go over each of the 5 Text Structures and tell them that when we are looking at non-fiction text, we will often find these structures and it is important to notice them and understand the purpose of each one.
Active Engagement: This is where students get to try out the strategy that I just taught them. I show them an article from Scholastic News and read through it out loud. I ask if they notice any of the Text Structures in the text. I give them about two minutes of thinking time then I ask them to turn and talk to their partners to share. Hopefully they will be able to identify some and explain their thinking behind it. If not, I will point out a couple of examples and explain my thinking.
Link to Ongoing Work: During this portion of the mini-lesson, I give the students a task that they will focus on during Independent Reading time. Now that I’ve introduced Text Structures, I tell them that when they are reading today, their job is to notice any of the 5 types in any of the informational books in their browsing boxes. At the end of Reader’s Workshop, they will meet with their assigned reading partner to discuss what they noticed. I remind them that I will randomly choose a few students to share so that they make sure to complete their task.
Transition Time: Every day after the mini-lesson, students get 5 minutes of Prep Time to choose new books (if needed), find a comfy spot, use the bathroom, and anything else they might need to do to prepare for 40 minutes of uninterrupted Independent Reading.
Guided Practice: Today, I would be conferencing with students right at their comfy spots and asking them to share summaries from the book they are reading. This is also when I could pull students for assessments, one-on-one reading, strategy groups, or guided reading groups. Because this portion of Reader’s Workshop is meant to be flexible and student based, it is not beneficial to plan too far ahead of time. Instead, you should gauge which students may need extra support through the mini-lesson, prior assessments, reading levels, overall ability and need for scaffolding. For Text Structure support, I will read with specific students, either with their own books or a teacher selected book, and help them identify different Text Structure examples within the text of their choice.
At the end of 40 minutes, I remind students that their job during reading time was to identify Text Structures in their books. I ask them to repeat the term, Text Structures. Then I tell them to meet with their reading partner to share what they found. Were they able to identify to identify more than one in the same text? Did they find the same structures as their partner? After partners have had a chance to share with each other, I ask a few students to share with the class. I then tell the class that we will focus on Text Structures for the next few weeks. Reader’s Workshop has come to an end so students put their browsing boxes away and make sure the library is neat and organized.