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Texts have both content and organization. By teaching students to look for signals in the text structure we increase reading comprehension. Narrative texts often have a different and easier structure than informational or expository texts (Graesser, Golding, & Long, 1991).

Lessons in text structure focus on teaching organization.


Teach text structure to:

  1. focus attention on key ideas and details
  2. make connections between ideas clear
  3. aid in retention

Overall teaching text structure helps build mental models of the text (Slater & Graves, 1989). We have to teach students to use text structure in both their reading and their writing.

We build comprehension through text based analysis. In the image of the white board you see how teachers focus text based analysis of text structure before, during, and after reading. In terms of teaching tips focus on four elements


Overall teachers will provide examples. Students need to see versions of different text structures marked up. They need to see teachers modeling how you analyze text structure.

Question Purpose

Teachers also need to encourage good reader's to ask, “What is the author's purpose? What are they trying to do with the text?” When teaching text structure students need to interrogate the text. You can make connections to other objectives based off of the Author's craft standard. Make connections to the comprehension strategy of, “Asking Questions.”

Use Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers also get used extensively in teaching text structure. Different text structures such as compare and contrast may use a Venn diagram while a numbered list would get used for sequential steps. Graphic Organizers have long shown moderate to strong results in helping with the comprehension of text. You can make connections to the “summary” reading comprehension.


Annotate for text structure. Teach students to identify heading and sub headings. Underline main ideas. Circle signal words.

At every grade level you should teach students to annotate for text structure.

In the image of the board above you see the five main types of text structure taught in academic settings:

  • Chronological
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Sequential
  • Expository
  • Cause and Effect

As you annotate you want to focus on signal words. These transition words signal to the reader both the type of text and the organization of the text. Writers use them to signal a new idea or detail. So in reading we often refer to the words as “signals” and in writing “transition” words“

  • Chronological-First,Second, last, Next, Finally
  • Compare and Contrast-Likewise, In Contrast, Similarly,
  • Expository-in this case, as an example, to demonstrate, to illustrate
  • Sequential-after, eventually, previously, next
  • Cause and Effect-and so consequently,therefore, as a consequence

Text Structure and the Common Core

Anchor standard five of the Common Core State Standards explains the expectations around text structure when someone graduates high school.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

For writing by the time someone graduates high school they should:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.5 Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text. The Common Core then traces these back down through Kindergarten. For example the reading standard has an expectation that students identify parts of a book to develop [[concepts of print]].

In the example on the image of the board you see Reading for Information 4.5 or CCRI4.5. The CC stands for common core.

Introduction to Text Structure

Focus on Text Structure for Better Readers and Writers

Chronological Text Structure

Signals and Patterns in Time

Compare and Contrast Text Structure

Signals and Patterns in Differences

Cause and Effect Text Structure

Signals and Patterns in Causation

text_structure.txt · Last modified: 2022/03/26 15:23 by jgmac1106