Text Structure Goal Ideas
- Given a paragraph long text, NAME will identify the text structure and name the main idea of the text in 3 out of 5 opportunities given a visual and a familiar graphic organizer.
- Given a short text, NAME will underline signal words and determine the text structure in 2 out of 3 opportunties across 3 sessions.
- Given a short text and a familiar graphic organizer, NAME will summarize the main points of the text in 3 out of 5 opportunities when provided with minimal adult support.
- Given two pictures, NAME will identify 2 or more ways they are similar and 2 or more ways they are different in 80% of opportunities.
- Given a familiar graphic organizer and a visual, NAME will compare and contrast two familiar items in 3-5 ways in 3 out of 4 observed opportunities.
- Given a familiar graphic organizer, NAME will compare and contrast two characters from grade level books in 3 out of 4 observed opportunities.
Read more about my goals here.
Teaching Text Structure Skills
Once I’m ready to move beyond Sentences and want to improve my students’ comprehension of non-fiction/informational texts, I typically start with text structure!
Text structure instruction can help with comprehension skills including summarizing and stating the main idea of text. This is because it helps students identify relationships in text, note information that is important to include in a summary, and know how to organize that information best (Stevens, 2019).
There are 5 main text structures commonly found in informational texts. They are:
- Sequence – Events that go in order. (builds on Sequencing skills)
- Describing – Telling all about one topic. (builds on Describing skills)
- Compare/contrast – Saying what is similar and different.
- Problem/solution – Describing a problem and ways to fix it.
- Cause/effect – Naming the reasons why something happens. (builds on understanding of conjunctions, like from our Sentence Combining work).
Text structure is one of my favorite tools to teach for comprehension for several reasons. One of them is that younger students and students with learning disabilities seem to show the most improvement from text structure interventions (Pyle, 2017). Plus, it lays a great foundation to target later comprehension skills and strategies because your students are better able to organize incoming information.
To make text structure interventions as effective as possible, keep these research-supported strategies in mind:
- Directly teach text structures and related signal words, preferably one at a time (especially in the beginning).
- Use graphic organizers and model their use.
- Scaffold success increasing independence over time.
To implement these research-supported strategies, here’s the steps I typically follow when teaching text structure skills:
1 – Teach text structure types one at a time, in depth.
You’re going to spend most of your time here – teaching ONE text structure at a time. I include tons of direct teaching, examples, visuals, and practice opportunities.
During this time, you will also introduce ‘signal words’ to your students and will create basic summaries of the information you read.
While creating these summaries, I also like to introduce different graphic organizer styles suited for each text structure.
Yes, you will spend a lot of time here relative to the next steps. But yes, it’s worth it!
Also, notice how this activity builds on the skills we practiced when targeting Describing. Now we’re looking at it from a bit of a different perspective and using it as a tool to understand progressively longer and more complex language.
2 – Read texts and determine the text structure.
Now, your students will see all of the text structures together. They will read short texts, visualize the text, discuss vocabulary, and identify signal words before determining the text structure. Last, your student will summarize the text.
3 – Relate text structure to real-life scenarios.
Last, you will ask your students to identify the text structure that helps them organize the needed information for relatable, real-life scenarios.
I love doing projects at this level, too. You could have your students pick a text structure and research their favorite animal, or somewhere they want to travel to, or write about something they’re good at. Then, summarize the information using their chosen text structure!
Activities like this relate the skill of understanding text structure back to something more relevant for their lives. My students love these projects and discussions too! Win-win!
Text Structure in Context
Once your learners show progress in your therapy room with determining the text structure of what they’re reading, you can start applying this information directly to what they’re doing in the classroom.
Simply providing familiar graphic organizers or visuals for classroom can be really helpful in boosting carryover of this strategy outside of your therapy sessions.
Want more contextualized therapy ideas and units? Check out my themed and story units below!