Table of Contents

Unit 3: Supporting Student Comprehension of Informational Text

3.3 Informational Text Structures

The CCSS for ELA/Literacy standard 5 highlights the importance of understanding text structure and features.

Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole. CCR Anchor Reading Standard 5"

Time to Read

Informational text structures provide the framework for an author to share information with a reader for a particular purpose: a job application, a recipe, a map, a direction sheet for assembling a toy, a speech, or a research paper have different structures because the purpose of each text is different.

Grade-level standards explicitly list structures students need to know for a variety of purposes, based on increasingly more demanding texts.

Time to Read

Find your grade level for Standard 5 in California's CCSS for ELA/Literacy (elementary pages 14–16, secondary pages 51–45).

Note the text features, purpose, and types of texts designated for your grade level.

Explicit teaching of text structures supports students in accessing text to understand its purpose.

Generally, informational text contains signal words and phrases that cue the reader to the text’s structure and purpose. Review the table below for a summary of these structures:

Description Describes a particular topic.
Signal words: for example, in particular, for instance, to illustrate, such as, most important, another
Sequence Lists a series of events that lead to a conclusion or a sequence of events related to a particular event.
Signal words: first, next, last, another, then, finally, before, preceding, following, additionally
Compare and Contrast Describes how two or more events, places, characters, or other ideas may be similar and/or different in multiple ways.
Signal words: like, similar to, unlike, in contrast, whereas, while, although, different from, as opposed to, instead of, however, as well as either/or
Cause and Effect Can include several reasons why an event occurred or several effects that resulted from a cause or multiple causes.
Signal words: therefore, as a result, lead(s) to, because of, in order to, for these reasons, thus, if-then, may be due to
Problem and Solution Identifies a problem, provides possible solutions with possible results, and finally, the actual solution selected.
Signal words: the problem is, the difficulty is, it is possible to, if-then, one challenge is, therefore
List and Enumeration Lists connected information, outlines a series of steps, or orders ideas in a hierarchy.
Signal words: first, second, third, last, then, at that time, during, immediately, next, until, while, soon, after, now


Time to View

Watch this video on teaching students about nonfiction text attributes, "Comic Book Templates: An Entry Point into Nonfiction."

Comic Book Templates: An Entry Point into Nonfiction

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Time to Reflect

In the video, Ms. Wessling uses many instructional strategies to support all students' understanding of nonfiction texts. Record the strategies that you observed.



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Time to Extend

The following resources have further information on teaching text structures.