Reading comprehension strategies are essential for our students! Language impairments affect our students’ abilities to understand and answer reading comprehension questions. How can we give them the skills to succeed in school?
We can read a passage and ask comprehension questions all day long, basically drilling and testing our kids. But that’s not intervention! If our kids knew how to find and produce the answer, no amount of straight practicing answering questions is going to help them.
We have to find the breakdown and teach reading comprehension strategies to help them answer the questions!
Information texts are usually written for one of several reasons: to explain a sequence of events, to describe something, elaborate on causes and effects, explain problems and solutions, and to compare and contrast two objects or ideas.
We can help our students understand what they are reading when they understand why the text was written.
Text structure is an effective, research-supported reading comprehension strategy for students with language and literacy needs!
Understanding text structure can also really help with identifying the main idea. If we can identify the type of text structure, we can use that to frame the main idea. If I know I’m dealing with a sequencing passage, I know that the main idea of the passage is to “explain the steps to __________.”
Being able to recognize text structures is one of those superpower strategies that really make a difference!
There is actually good quality evidence (randomized and quasi-experimental!) supporting text structure intervention. In fact, students who were given explicit text structure instruction are better able to identify key relationships in the text, recall reading passage details better, and improve their reading comprehension scores. (Meyer et al., 2010; Ray & Meyer, 2011).
You know I want my students to have those awesome benefits!
Even better, a recent systematic review found that text structure instructions were more effective reading comprehension strategies than standard instruction (Halls-Mills & Marante, 2020).
You can teach text structures to elementary, middle, and high school students!
We might think that expository texts are something for older kids, but even Kindergarteners use expository texts in the classroom. Narratives are important, but we can’t forget about expository texts in elementary school!
Actually, the younger we start teaching these concepts, the better the improvement (Pyle et al., 2017).
Interestingly, all students benefit from text structure intervention, but kids with learning disabilities actually show even stronger effects, in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade! (Pyle et al., 2017). The kids were even using their strategies in untaught text structures – generalization and carryover WIN!
Narrative-based intervention has been shown to be as effective as expository intervention. You’ll notice though that classroom work involves more and more expository passages as kids get older. If you’re do curriculum-based therapy, or pushing into the classroom, you’ll want to make sure your interventions match what is going on in the classroom!
Graphic organizers are great to support reading comprehension. I love all of the graphic organizers in my Compare and Contrast Speech Therapy – No Prep Visuals, Worksheets, & Activities packet to help with that text structure! If we want the graphic organizers to actually help our kids, they need to take an active part in filling it out. We need to explicitly teach how and why we use the graphic organizers, as well as coach students on how to use it.
We can teach our students which graphic organizer matches which text structure, and how to use them effectively.
Expository text structures fall in the following categories:
We can teach our students to look for the “signal words” within a passage that can give us a clue about what text structure we are looking at.
Like any good intervention, we can model how to look for the words and over time, let the students find the words and figure out the text structure. Once we know what text structure we’re looking at, we can select the right graphic organizer to help us organize the information and take notes.
Most of all, it’s important our students can look at a text and determine what kind of text structure they are reading. Knowing what they are looking at will help them understand the author’s message and give them clues as to what they are looking for.
If you’re ready to tackle text structures with your students, you’ll want to check out my Text Structure for Comprehension and Language packet, with over 300 pages of everything you need!
It includes three levels of activities plus graphic organizers, visuals, and writing worksheets.
Level 1 is the largest and where you’ll spend the most time. This is the section where you will .
In addition, I’ve included Boom Cards™️ to make this teaching more accessible to all students, including those with a lower language level. The Boom Card™️ activities are also a great no-prep option for all ages!
Levels 2 and 3 are focused and challenge your students to think about all of the text structures at once (either in texts or in real life scenarios).
Each level focuses on the big five test structures: sequencing, describing, cause and effect, problem and solution, and compare and contrast.
I hope this helps you use text structures as one of your reading comprehension strategies!
Bogaerds-Hazenberg, S., Evers-Vermeul, J., van den Bergh, H. (2020). A meta-analysis on the effects of text structure instruction on reading comprehension in the upper elementary grades. Reading Research Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.311
Hall-Mills, S., & Marante, L. (2021). Text structure strategy for expository reading comprehension: Case study with an adolescent with noonan syndrome. SIG1 Language Learning and Education. https://doi.org/10.1044/2021_PERSP-20-00272
Meyer, B. & Ray, M. (2011). Structure strategy interventions: Increasing reading comprehension of expository text. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education. 4. 127-152.
Pyle, N., Vasquez, A.C., Lignugaris/Kraft, B., Gillam, S., Reutzel, D.R., Olszewski, A., Pyle, D. (2017). Effects of expository text structure interventions on comprehension: A meta-analysis. Reading Research Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.179