We began the unit by doing a carousel activity. All of my students KNOW what each of the structures means because we spend a lot of time reviewing the concepts during reading. I had them brainstorm five different topics that they could write information about. Then, they divided up a piece of chart paper into a section for each of the types of structures. They got to work writing short sentences that fit the specified type of structure. (At this point, I didn't even use the term "structure." I just told them to write an informative sentence that shows each relationship.) They did a GREAT job with this! It would also be a great assessment or mid-unit activity.
The next day, the students created a foldable from I'm Lovin Lit's Informational Text Interactive Notebook (which I LOVE and believe every upper grades teacher should own) that gives a great overview of all of the different text structures. We discussed the etymology of the word "Structure" and that helped the students understand that Informational Text Structure is the way in which an author builds a paragraph or article of information. I created an anchor chart while they made their foldable.
|Informational Text Structures Anchor Chart|
ADDED: Here is a picture of how our foldable ended up looking for the 2015-2016 school year.
We are a Thinking Maps school, so my visuals were a little bit different than some others I have seen. We also generated an example (about ice cream, of course) for each structure. I can't tell you how many times the students have referenced this anchor chart while working on other assignments throughout the week. It looked busy to me at first, but it's full of information that the students seem to find useful.
I also created a FREE text structures sort that includes short, one or two sentence descriptions that fit into each structure. The themes are super fun-- video games, swimming, chocolate chips, and fast food. I like to laminate the pieces and have students complete them in partners!
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Have I mentioned how much I love these?! Erin was also sweet enough to send me 5 extra free paragraphs about Alcatraz to use with my students. My students were FASCINATED by these paragraphs, and they are perfect for the older crowd. You can download these for FREE, thanks to Erin at I'm Lovin' Lit. If you haven't already, check out her blog for more great ideas!
After we did the foldables, they worked on some informational text structure task cards that I created. These task cards were quite the labor of love to create! I was under a time crunch to get them done since I needed to use them in my class, and each one seemed to take me forever to make. The cards include three different paragraphs, written in a different structure, about one topic. I also included comprehension questions on each card since we were working on some other nonfiction comprehension topics as well. The kids really enjoyed these and looked forward to completing their required two each day.
UPDATE February 2017: I used these cards with a little twist this time around! After we had created our foldable and gone through each of Erin's paragraphs, I gave pairs of students a copy of one of the informational text structure task cards. Then, I had them identify which text structure each paragraph was written in and organize the information in the paragraph using the correct visual Thinking Map that we had discussed. This was such a powerful learning experience! Some students made mistakes in identifying which structure a paragraph was, and when they tried to organize the information in a visual model, it didn't work! They were able to self-correct so seamlessly. Here are some pictures of the work:
You can purchase these Informational Text Structure Task Cards at my TpT store HERE. They now include the task card version, a printable version, AND a digital version! The possibilities are truly endless.
If your students aren't quite ready for this much text, the resource also includes individual passages. I use them as a text structures sort activity! This is perfect if you have already completed the smaller, easier sort above.
Update 2018: I have really been digging reading projects lately, as my students are always so engaged in them. I created this super fun informational text structures reading project that has a racing theme. There are fifteen pages of printable resources to practice the ins and outs of text structures, and it is just so much fun! You can view the project and learn more about it HERE.
Finally, we are taking an assessment over each of the structures. I based my assessment off of the task cards we used, and it is a good way to gauge student understanding. You can download my informational text structures assessment for FREE at my TpT store.
I can't wait to see the final projects that my students are working on! It should be a great display of their learning and of the common core standards we have been focusing on.