Teach the T’s

ext Features-Knowing text features and their purpose allow students to preview the text, access prior knowledge and make connections.  As students gather information they can surmise the author’s intent.

ext Structures-Knowing how authors build their stories (text structures) help students to read with a purpose and better understanding.  For example, if students are told they are reading a text for Describing they read and search for text evidence that supports the main idea and details…looking for signal words that tell the reader that the author is describing something.  On the other hand, if students are explicitly told they are reading for Compare & Contrast they begin to read with the intent to find signal words and text evidence that supports the author is looking at two things for same and differences.  Once students know the text structures well, they then can be given a piece of text and can identify the structure based on signal words and evidence without having to be told the structure beforehand

arget Skill in Journeys- Ever notice that the Target Skill for each lesson matches a text structure?  Students are being told explicitly what to focus on as they read so teach the Target Skill like you would teach the Text Structure.  Have students go into the text searching for evidence of the structure.

hinking Maps- Can you believe it….all eight cognitive skills support the text structures?  In fact three of the eight are called the same thing: Sequencing, Compare & Contrast, and Cause & Effect.  As students, pull apart the text and take notes…why not use a Thinking Map to organize their notes or thoughts?  Then have them “rebuild” what they’ve read by reading, speaking and writing from their map.

So as you can see not only are the ABCs important but so are the s!

Ask your TOA on lessons on Text Features, Text Structures, and taking Thinking Maps to writing.


Why is an understanding of text structure important?

text structure

Text structure is a building or a structure and refers to how a piece of text is built.  Writers use different structures to build their ideas.  Ideas are built in different ways.  Authors use text structures to help deliver information to the reader.  If students know the purpose and the organization of each structure they can anticipate the type of information they will be reading. They can then apply specific comprehension strategies that will help to understand what is being read.

There are five basic text structures:

Chronological/Sequential-explains how something happened in sequential order

Signal Words: first, next, then, last, finally after that, later, after that

Thinking Map:  Flow Map (Sequencing Map)

Compare and Contrast-examines the similarities and differences between two topics

Compare Signal Words: like, in common, similar as, same, in the same way to, both, as well as, also, in the same manner, too

Contrast Signal Words: although, unlike, yet, even though, whereas, while, however, but, on the contrary, differ, the reverse, instead, on the other hand, unless

Thinking Map:  Double Bubble Map (Compare and Contrast) or if comparing/contrasting more

than 2 things Tree Map (Classifying)

Cause and Effect-explains why things happen and what occurs as a result

Cause Signal Words: because, since, cause, reason, so that, unless, the main reason

Effect Signal Words: As a result of, if, consequently, effect, therefore, thus

Thinking Map: Multi-Flow or partial multi-flow (Cause and Effect)

Description-a topic, idea, person, place or thing is described by its attributes, characteristics or examples

Signal Words: for example, for instance, to begin with, to illustrate

Thinking Map:  Circle Map (defining), Tree Map (Classifying) or Bubble Map (Describing)

Problem/Solution-explains a problem and one or more solutions

Signal Words: for instance, such as

Synonyms for problem: difficulty, struggle, dilemma, uncertainty, worry, threat, trouble

Synonyms for solution: possibility, hope, answer, future, solve

Thinking Map: Multi-Flow (Cause and Effect) or Flow Map (Sequencing)

https://education.illinoisstate.edu/downloads/casei/3-01-04-handout TextStructureResources 1.pdf




For more resources…see your Journeys TOAs

Technology Tools to Engage Students


BlendSpace (formerly known as EdCanvas) is a place where you can blend your classroom with digital content.

  • Collect web resources in one place and share with just one link
  • Measure student understanding with built-in quizzes
  • Monitor student progress and adapt to student needs in real-time

Search the GALLERY for lessons already created by teachers, create your own LESSONS, and differentiate learning by forming CLASSES (great for the combo teacher). Create lessons in 5 minutes! It’s FREE! https://www.blendspace.com/

EdPuzzle is a FREE site that allows users to select a video and customize it by editing, cropping, recording audio, and adding questions to make an engaging presentation or lesson. Add it to your BlendSpace. https://edpuzzle.com/

Kahoot.It is web-based and FREE! It takes the place of an electronic classroom response system. Check for Understanding or make an EXIT TICKET.   Create questions/quiz and choices….give students the code to the quiz and away you go!   https://www.getkahoot.com/

Why Teaching Text Features is Important

We have enjoyed the opportunity to co-teach Text Features in classrooms, k-5 throughout the district over the last couple of weeks.  Understanding text features and text structures was brought to our attention as necessary for students to delve deeper into complex text with understanding.  So we did some research and discovered that there is in fact a connection to what we know about close reading and where we want to go with writing.  Our hope this year is to touch upon all three: text features, text structures, and writing.text features1


So let’s start with why teaching Text Features is important…

Understanding text features is important if we want students to understand and comprehend what they are reading.  They are 5 types of text features:

  • those that show a separation in the text such as titles and heading-where information is provided in smaller chunks
  • some are an organizational tool such as the table of contents, index, and glossary,
  • others are graphics like: photographs, illustrations, maps, charts and tables , which provide a visual that provides more information and supports the text,
  • font and format like bold words and italicized words also signal the reader to important information
  • and page lay-out: use of insets, bullets, and numbering.

Text features are simply readers’ aides used to gather information and improve comprehension.  Text features should be explicitly taught.  Once students can identify specific features they then need to understand how they help them to understand what they are reading, especially informational text.  A text feature walk is a good way to start (see: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/guiding-students-through-expository-text-text-feature-walks ), then move in to collaborative conversations where students discuss the use of features in a particular text and how it helps them to understand what they are reading.  Later, text features can be connected to text structures as students will soon discover that certain features will support one structure over another.

Here are some sites that we visited:





See your site Instructional Coach for more information on Text Features.

Welcome back!

The 2015-2016 school year is off to a great start with lots of enthusiasm and excitement.

One new item we have for you right now is a list of topics from the Interactive Whiteboard lessons in Think Central.

interactive whiteboard

We hope that you find these useful when you are looking for a review or preview topic and don’t want to go through every lesson. You might even want to take a look at another grade level if you don’t find what you are looking for in yours.

You can find these lists in the File Cabinet or by clicking the link below!

Kinder Interactive Whiteboard lessons

1st gr Interactive Whiteboard lessons

2nd gr Interactive Whiteboard lessons

3rd gr Interactive Whiteboard lessons

4th gr Interactive Whiteboard lessons

5th gr Interactive Whiteboard lessons



Looking for some ideas to go along with Journeys curriculum?

Check out our NEW pinterest boards, there is currently one for each grade level that we are adding to almost every day!
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