Text Structures: A Lesson for Upper Elementary Students

Informational text structures... this was the ELA topic that scared me the most when I was coteaching in upper elementary classrooms. In fact, I wrote another blog post a couple of years ago describing how I decided to tackle the topic, and listing the three key components to include when teaching nonfiction text structures. (Click here to check it out.)

The purpose of this blog post is to share a complete text structures lesson with you. To be completely honest, I've received such positive, thoughtful feedback about my free character traits lesson, that I decided to create a similar text structure lesson for my followers, too!  If you read through this post, and decide that you want to try this activity with your students, be sure to click on the following image. Everything you need for this lesson is FREE! (Well, almost everything… you’ll have to provide your own anchor chart paper and clipboards! :))
Teach text structures with this nonfiction text structure anchor chart and FREE sorting activity! Ideal lesson for the upper elementary classroom that includes 8 free passages!

I would plan to do this lesson about halfway through my text structure unit. (I would show students my PowerPoint and work through my flipbook before this lesson would take place. By doing these activities first, students should have all of the prior knowledge necessary to fully participate in this review lesson.) I would prepare for this lesson by drawing the base of my text structure anchor chart (the rows and columns would be drawn, and I would have the left column already labeled). I would also have the passages printed, the interactive notebook copies printed, and the clipboards ready to go.

To begin the lesson, I would share the unfinished anchor chart with students and follow these steps:

  1.  Hold up one of the images, and ask students to tell me which row it belonged in. 
  2.  Glue the first image in place. 
  3.  Ask students to help me think of a guiding question for that text structure that I could place in  the middle column.
  4.  Instruct students to turn to a partner and list some of the signal words we have learned for that  text structure.
  5.  Tell students that I'm going to jot down a few of the words I heard mentioned during the  partner conversations that just took place, and do so beside the image (as shown).
  6.  Repeat the previous five steps with the other four text structures.
Teach text structures with this nonfiction text structure anchor chart and FREE sorting activity! Ideal lesson for the upper elementary classroom that includes 8 free passages!
The next component of this lesson includes these five clipboards. As you can see, each clipboard is labeled with the name of a text structure and its matching graphic. I also assigned a number to each clipboard.

Teach text structures with this FREE sorting activity that features 8 nonfiction passages! Ideal text structure lesson for the upper elementary classroom that includes an anchor chart!
The incredible text structure clipart is by Aim Less Daze.
Teach text structures with this FREE sorting activity that features 8 nonfiction passages! Ideal text structure lesson for the upper elementary classroom that includes an anchor chart!
I would tell students to listen carefully as I read aloud a passage. (I would also use a document camera to display the passages so my students could follow along.) Students need to match the passage to the correct text structure. To make sure everyone remains engaged, I would instruct students to display each answer by holding up fingers… 1 finger for description, two fingers for sequence, three fingers for compare and contrast, etc. After asking a few students to justify their answer (hopefully by using some of the language from our anchor chart), I would clip the passage onto the correct clipboard. Once all eight passages have all been classified, your clipboards will look like this:
Teach text structures with this FREE sorting activity that features 8 nonfiction passages! Ideal text structure lesson for the upper elementary classroom that includes an anchor chart!

Finally, I would have my students add the following clipboard images to their reading notebooks. Students can refer to the anchor chart as they write the guided question under each clipboard.
FREE Nonfiction Text Structures Interactive Notebook Entry! This blog post contains a COMPLETE informational text structure lesson with and anchor chart and 8 free nonfiction passages for your upper elementary students to sort, also!
(Notice that only the top of each clipboard is glued in place, allowing it to be flipped up and written beneath.)
FREE Nonfiction Text Structures Interactive Notebook Entry! This blog post contains a COMPLETE informational text structure lesson with and anchor chart and 8 free nonfiction passages for your upper elementary students to sort, also!

If you are looking for additional resources for teaching text structures to your upper elementary students, feel free to check out the following resources. The entire bundle shown below is currently priced at $8.99, or each individual item is available for purchase, as well.
Nonfiction Text Structure Bundle of Activities: Everything you need (and possibly more!) for 4th-6th grade text structure unit!

Thank you for stopping by today! 



An A From Miss Keller Freebies: A Mentor Text for Writing Personal Narratives


 Hello! Welcome to our fall mentor text link up! The book I chose to feature is An A From Miss Keller by Patricia Polacco. If you’re like me (and most intermediate level ELA teachers I know!), you’re already a fan of her work. This is one of her newer books, just published in 2015. Full disclosure: this blog post contains affiliate links. :)
Personal Narrative Checklist Anchor Chart... a writing lesson and FREE printables are also included!
Click on the image to take a peek at this book on Amazon!

An A From Miss Keller is a perfect mentor text to use during a personal narrative unit in writing. After all, this book IS a personal narrative. Polacco writes about the pride and fear she felt when she realized that she would be in “Killer Keller’s” writing class. Just as a fan of Patricia Polacco might expect, this book is fun to read aloud, full of descriptive sentences. One of my favorite lines from this book is “She stood stiff and erect, but when she was at her desk, she reminded me of a bird of prey, perched on a dead limb, ready to swoop down on one of us.”

A quick summary: No matter how hard Trisha tries, there just seems to be no way to impress Miss Keller, her writing teacher. Miss Keller critiques each one of her student’s writing, leaving Trisha and her classmates feeling discouraged. Trisha’s neighbor, known as Pop, recalls how his sons once had Miss Keller as a teacher, and offers words of encouragement. Still, Trisha can’t seem to make Miss Keller happy. One day, Trisha is positive that she finally nailed her writing assignment, but Miss Keller tells Trisha that she lacks emotional connection in her writing. Devastated, Trisha visits Pop, who tells Trisha about how his son became a journalist and won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting, and he credited Miss Keller for helping his son become a gifted writer. Shortly thereafter, Pop dies unexpectedly, and Trisha is heartbroken. She pours her heart into writing a piece about Pop as her term essay. Finally, Miss Keller is moved by Trisha’s writing, and tells Trisha that she wrote a stunning tribute to Pop the crowning example of a personal narrative.

BEFORE READING

I plan to use this mentor text during the week when I focus on Elements of a Personal Narrative. Before reading this book aloud, I will create the following anchor chart with my students. (We will have already focused on numbers 1, 2, and 3 in previous weeks, and I'm confident that we will have at least briefly touched on numbers 4, 5, and 6.) 

Prior to class, I will have the title printed across the top of the anchor chart, the lines drawn, and the visual cues ready to go. I'll begin the lesson by saying something like, "We've already learned several elements of a strong personal narrative. Turn to a partner and see how many the two of you can name." After giving students two minutes to discuss the topic, I'll randomly choose some students to share their answers. 

As students list the elements, I'll add them (and the visual cues) to the anchor chart. If students fail to mention any or all of the last three elements, I plan to say, I'm going to add a few more elements that we will really dive into within the next few weeks. Right now, though, I'm just going to give you a 'sneak peek' at them, because they are important elements to have on our personal narrative checklist." (Then, when we actually do reach these lessons in future weeks, we can discuss how we've already been introduced to these elements, and we can refer back to our anchor chart!)

Following our discussion, the anchor chart will look like this:

Personal Narrative Checklist Anchor Chart... a writing lesson and FREE printables are also included!

DURING READING

Next, I will display the book. I'll tell students that as they listen to the story, they will need to follow along and listen for evidence of how Patricia Polacco included these six elements in her personal narrative. After reading, we will fill in the final column of our anchor chart with evidence from this text that proves Polacco met the requirements of a strong personal narrative. (If they want to jot down notes on a sheet of notebook paper, they may certainly do so!)
Strong Personal Narratives: A Mentor Text Writing Lesson! After reading aloud the book, you and your students can work together and find text evidence to support each element!

After we reach the conclusion, I will hand out the printable checklist, and point out how I reworded the middle section just a bit to be more specific. Together, we will go through each row on the checklist and answer the question. For most of the rows, we'll need to dive back into the book and find specific evidence. When we do this, I'll place the book below the document camera so all students will be able to read along. When we find evidence, I'll record it on the anchor chart while students write it on their own checklist. The finished anchor chart will look similar to the one below: 
Personal Narrative Checklist Anchor Chart... a writing lesson and FREE printables are also included!
Having trouble reading the words? Just download the free printable and check out page 3! The same words are printed there.


AFTER READING

I anticipate referring to this anchor chart often as we progress through our personal narrative unit. I also created the following checklist for students to use as a writing or revising tool. They can use this checklist to analyze their own writing to make sure they included all of the necessary personal narrative elements. I'm also excited to use this as a tool during writing conferences to facilitate conversation with my young authors!
FREE personal narrative checklist for writers in grades 3-6! Students can use this checklist to analyze their own personal narratives!

If you would like to replicate this lesson for your own classroom, feel free to download the printables here! I've included both checklists, an answer key, and the visual cue images in case you want to replicate the anchor chart. CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW FOR THE FREE PRINTABLES!
Personal Narrative Checklist Anchor Chart... a writing lesson and FREE printables are also included!


Thanks for stopping by today! I invite you to hop around from blog to blog to find some more great mentor text lessons!