Teaching Nonfiction Text Structures

nonfiction text structures

Explicitly teaching nonfiction text structure is a cornerstone of content area literacy. The more we teach students to recognize the most common informational text structures, the better they can process and retain the information they read. I like to think of it as providing students with mental graphic organizers that will help them navigate and understand nonfiction texts.

Nonfiction Text Structure 1: Descriptive

nonfiction text structure

Definition: Text that provides details or characteristics of a topic. Informational texts that paint a mental picture

Keywords and Phrases: for example, for instance, characteristics, specifically, another

Nonfiction Text Structure 2: Order and Sequence

nonfiction text structure

Definition: Text that provides steps in a procedure or events in chronological order

Keywords and Phrases: first, next, during, before, after, then, last, finally, in the beginning, in the end, to start

Nonfiction Text Structure 3: Cause and Effect

nonfiction text structure

Definition: Text that describes an event or events (cause) and the events (effect) that follow

Keywords and Phrases: because, since, due to, as a result, so then, consequently, leads to

Nonfiction Text Structure 4: Compare and Contrast

nonfiction text structure

Definition: Text that describes how two things are similar and different

Keywords and Phrases: similar, alike, same, both, just like, unlike, different, in contrast, on the other hand

Nonfiction Text Structure 5: Problem and Solution

Definition: Text that describes a problem and explains one or more solutions

Keywords and Phrases: issue, cause, since, problem, therefore, consequently, leads to, because of, so, then, solve

Familiarizing your students with these text structures and their keywords and phrases will set them up for success when reading in science, social studies, and other technical areas.

I created a set of “sketch/doodle notes” to help your students learn and remember the five most common types of nonfiction text structures. These notes will allow your students to create a visual (doodle), write a brief definition, and list keywords and phrases for each text structure. BONUS: I also created a classroom mini-poster.

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Nonfiction and Fiction Reading Passages for the Entire School Year: