Text Features – Continued

Text Features – Continued

Our work with text features continues. We are digging a lot deeper than what I’ve done in the past and so far, it has been a rich experience for all of us. The skills that the students are learning during these sessions are important to have, especially when doing independent research projects.

On Monday, while working with Ms. Hong in the library, all students were able to start typing up the information gathered while reading a nonfiction book of their choice. They used the Book Creator app to do this.

Here is an overview of the steps we followed to get us to this point:

Step 1: We discussed the difference between fiction and nonfiction books. (see  this blog post for more info)

Step 2: The students did a scavenger hunt, using the school library books. The pictures they took can be viewed on Showbie, in the “Text Features – Scavenger Hunt” folder.

Step 3: The students selected a nonfiction book from the library. Many students found the selection process difficult. Their greatest challenge was to ensure that most text features appear in the book they chose.

Step 4: Each student created a “Wonder Web”, using the following graphic organizer. They were not allowed to read their book prior to doing this.


Step 5: To find the answer to their questions, they read the table of contents and the index.  This is what they used to do this. I’ve modified the document as I felt it was not clear enough and a bit confusing.

Step 6: I asked the students to only read the sections that were pertinent to their questions. When we research information, we rarely read an entire book and I wanted the students to get better at this. It seems pretty obvious to us but you would be surprised to see how many students don’t know how to do this. Many also found this part challenging as they were not always looking in the right section. In the end, most students were able to find the answers to their questions.

We also had a great discussion around book selection and what makes a book great as opposed to just okay. Here are the books that turned out to be great:

Step 7: To practice reading headings and subheadings, we also asked everyone to come up with new questions connected to these text features. Although it wasn’t mentioned, I noticed that many used the pictures found on the page to help them write questions. This is what good readers do. We may not necessarily be aware of it but it happens all the time.

Here is the document they used for this step. I apologize for the blurry picture. I took it with my phone and the lighting wasn’t great.


What next?

During the next month, the students will be writing a short nonfiction book using their findings. Their work will be published using Book Creator, a fantastic app we have access to on our school iPads. This will also give them the opportunity to include and create many of the text features they have been learning about during this personal research.

As you can see, learning takes time and for complete mastery of a skill, it is important to dig deep and to revisit what is being taught over a longer period of time. If you would like to support your child at home with this, don’t hesitate to discuss text features with him/her. Here are some keywords for you:

  • Table of Contents
  • Heading
  • Subheading
  • Text Box
  • Caption
  • Label
  • Graph
  • Pictures, Illustrations, Images
  • Maps
  • Glossary
  • Bold, italics
  • Index

Have a great day,


2 thoughts on “Text Features – Continued

  1. Annie: This is a fantastic exercise that takes reading and analytical skills to the next step! I wish I had done this when I was in school – the kids will have such strong skills if they apply these tools. Thank you for creating such a thoughtful, structured and creative process.

    1. What an adventure! Gus and I have often used indices in books but your exercises cover it all. Thanks. Something I have thought about in past is how much more kids books resemble the internet in their layout. With sidebars, photos, textbooks ( like pop-ups on the internet). For me this makes some kids books distracting, less linear. But maybe this cohort sees things differently. Your lesson should help them navigate all the visual objects shouting ” look at me!” that text media seem to have now, whether in print or online. Great lesson you put together! Gisele

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