What is Text Structure?
Often, while we are communicating our thoughts over a text, or trying to solve that mystery while reading a suspense thriller, it is the structure that is at the core of how the particular text is interpreted by us. As adults, we become fluent with language - both reading and writing and don’t tend to think much about this text structure. Since we’re already effusive readers, the structure of the text along with its information seems to flow naturally and effortlessly — sans overt overthinking.
Even though it usually goes unnoticed, the structure of a text is its backbone — making use of good vocabulary and fancier words only add to its aesthetics — and so it goes a long way towards building our concepts. The way information is arranged in a sentence, paragraph, chapter, or a complete book helps us perceive which bit of information is the most crucial and how we can classify the rest, placing it in the right place. This provides structure to our apprehension and helps us abrade these facts in our minds for the long term.
Many young readers are often unable to interpret the use of text structure, let alone using it to form every sentence. Being able to identify and grasp the concept regarding the objective of common text structures is a finesse often recognized in our language theory that’s taught in our classrooms.
There are a number of ways students can be taught text structures and cultivate their interest so that they experiment with it and start creating new phrases and creative sentences in a jiffy. They must be encouraged to be direct when asking questions about text structures in the classroom and also on standardized tests, but being able to investigate the way information is grouped will help beginners get a hold of where they can discern the author’s purpose while reading.
Perhaps the most essential of all is being able to grasp text structures and it is this concept that gradually helps children become better writers. It’s like a module they’ll ultimately follow while writing sentences and paragraphs, so the groundwork we establish now will act as an ally that serves them well for a lifetime by aiding in their writing, whether they choose to become writers or write a simple email to a coworker.
Type of Text Structures:
Before getting started with attaining the conceptual understanding of text structures, it is vital to know about their types and how they’re categorized. There are 7 common text structures :
1. Cause and Effect:
Such texts demonstrate the message by highlighting an event and detailing its results. Science and history texts often make use of this structure. Keywords to look for include “because,” “therefore,” and “why”.
These texts are important in the way that they organize events in the order in which they happened. This structure is commonly used to describe current events, history, and works of fiction or a memoir. Keywords include time markers like “first,” “next,” “then”, “ultimately” and “finally.”
3. Comparison / Contrast:
These texts are essentially detailed and identifying, but handle two or more topics to create a focal point around similarities and contrasts between them. This type of text structure is useful when dealing with nearly all subjects. keywords include “more,” “less,” “as [adjective] as,” “than” and “however.”
4. Order of Importance:
These texts present facts or information in a pecking order, typically with the most important element first. This structure is often used in news stories and topics related to science but can be used in a wide range of topics. Keywords include “most,” “least,” and “important.”
5. Problem and Solution:
These texts begin by describing an issue and then moving on with explaining a way to solve or rectify it. This structure is common in science, math, and social studies including a range of informative articles. Keywords include “issue,” “problem,” “trouble,” “fix,” “solve” and “how.”
6. Sequence / Process:
Comparable to chronological text structures, this structure puts elements in order, but with an aim to explain the directive of the way something has to occur. This is usually seen in lab reports and how-to pieces. keywords include “first,” and “next” as well as “how” and “why”.
7. Spatial / Descriptive:
These texts provide a description of a scene, typically arranging information by neighborhood; for example, portraying a room by moving from the doorway to the wall on the opposite end. keywords include prepositions like “above,” “below,” “behind,” etc. Adjectives are also an indication of this text structure.
How To Get Started With Text Structures
The whole concept of text structures can come off as a bit dry to young children. We can follow some important steps that will help students get the crux and help make this topic easy for them to grasp and establish a proper flow.
1. Elucidate why text structures are important
To get students ready to learn about text structures, it helps to explain the reason they’re being taught about this topic — making sure we’re doing this with a kid-friendly approach. That may imply skipping that bit about the state tests while focusing solely on the importance of understanding an author’s purpose. We can also point out its benefits by stating it’s a nice way to set up good writing habits to let its relevance stand out even more.
2. Using age-appropriate examples
The best way to discuss and teach about text structure is to demonstrate with the help of examples, rather than simply talking about them in the abstract - this makes the child lose interest. It’s considered optimum to keep examples short and sweet, making sure they’re at the child’s reading level.
3. Discuss and dissect the sample
You can have children read a sample out loud and pick out sentences that display how the writer is trying to get the point across. For example in one such sentence, ask the child - Which words show that a comparison is being made? After working the way through a sample or two, you can have students solidify this idea of identifying text structures by writing their own short pieces that follow the structure that’s currently being taught.
4. Brainstorm key words
You can also have students brainstorm keywords so that they can search for them — they’re asked to come up with more examples than those listed above! For each text structure, make it a point to find out ways in which children can fill a piece of chart paper with words that will tip them off to the textstructure that’s going to be used. These posters made by children themselves make for a great resource to hang around in the classroom to act as a revision to prepare them for future structures.
5. Take it slow
Trying to conquer all seven text structures in one lesson would be disastrous. It’s best to go slow and do one at a time — reinforcing the previous knowledge as you go, and spread your lessons across a week or more. You’ll have ample chances to revisit this information as the year goes by. This is a natural way to build upon the concepts learned in a more meaningful way, so keep these review opportunities coming and relish how soon children stop wondering - “What is Text Structure” and begin to form works of art, one sentence at a time.