Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sailing Through Text Features!

Last week, we started our unit on expository texts. I love this time of year because we get to read all kinds of wonderful texts and learn lots of interesting facts! Before we could dive completely into expository texts, we took a few days to examine the text features authors use to help readers better understand texts.

To show the kiddos just how important text features are, I first gave them an article to read that had no added text features- just the title and the words. I used an article from one of my Scholastic News issues and just typed it up- no pictures, no color. The kids read through the article with a partner and we discussed what we read and found evidence that the text was in fact expository. This particular article was about a kid who survived the Joplin tornado and sparked lots of interesting discussion. :)

After the conversation ceased, I told them I had a second article I wanted them to read. I passed out a "new" article- which in fact was the exact SAME text but as it appeared in the Scholastic News Magazine- text features, colors, and all. By the way, if you don't have access to Scholastic News, it is definitely worth the money! They are wonderful!  The kids started reading and a few seconds in recognized that it was the same article!! Lots of kiddos said 'Hey! This is the same thing!" I gave my best, "Are you sure?" look asked the kids to explain how this was the same article. It looked completely different!!

And so began our discussion of text features!

We talked about which of the two texts the kids would be drawn to read if they had the choice- the text with no pictures and color or the one with. Of course, they all exclaimed emphatically that they would choose the colorful one. We had wonderful conversation about why they would choose that one and why an author would take all the extra time and energy to add all of those wonderful extras to the article. I was  pleasantly surprised to hear their insightful answers. The kids had a great appreciation for text features after our discussion!

Once the idea of text features was introduced, we dove into to studying the most common text features readers come across. We read a different article, also from Scholastic News (oh, how I love those things!) and as we read, we added the text features we came across to our 'Sailing Through Text Features' book. The kids cut out the features they saw and glued them underneath the description. The kids enjoyed getting to add their own examples to their books and anytime we bust out the scissors and the glue you can guarantee excitement! If you would like to take a look at this book, you can check it out here.

This year, I wanted to focus more on headings as important text features. Headings are such wonderful tools that help readers make predictions, quickly find information, and understand the important ideas in sections of text. At the end of last year, our team had the idea to cut up an entire article and have the kiddos reassemble it and match the text features to the different parts of the article. I loved this idea and I was so excited to try it this year. I knew that I wanted to focus on headings, so I chose an article that would force the kids to match sections of text with the proper headings.

The kiddos received baggies with pieces of an article cut up. They had to reassemble the article and match the sections of text with the correct headings.

 It was a hit! The kids had to read carefully and think about where each heading belonged and explain why. This article was tricky and required the kids to recognize key words and details that matched the text to the appropriate heading. They were so proud when they had the article fully assembled!

In the coming weeks as we read more challenging texts, the kids will repeat this activity with a longer article with several sections of text that need to be matched to headings. Also in the coming weeks, we will continue our study of expository texts and become expository experts using strategies like drawing conclusions, finding cause and effect relationships, and finding main ideas! Fun times to come!

Two more days and then a week-long break! Can I make it?! I hear Dory singing loud and clear, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" Have a great Wednesday!

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