1. Identify Text Structure Elements
- Tell stories that usually follow a familiar story structure.
- Usually include the following story elements:
- Informational books
- Contain structures that can differ from one text to another and within a single passage (e.g., compare-contrast, description).
- Help students understand content area textbooks.
An Example of Narrative Text Structure
|In August, Henry and Henry's big dog Mudge always went camping. They went with Henry's parents.
Henry's mother had been a Camp Fire Girl, so she knew all about camping. She knew how to set up a tent. She knew how to build a campfire. She knew how to cook camp food.
|Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night by Cynthia Rylant (1998, see References)
An Example of Expository or Informational Text
|Common Types of Expository or Informational Texts:
Narrative and Expository Texts
Listening to and reading both types of texts helps students:
- Comprehend a variety of written materials.
- Build and extend background knowledge about a variety of topics.
- Develop vocabulary.
- Make connections to real life experiences.
- Learn how different texts are organized and written.
- Distinguish between different genre.
How to Teach Text Structure: Design Considerations
- Teacher actions should model how to identify a text structure element in a story or informational text.
- Example: After reading the first two paragraphs of Stuart Little, the teacher says: "They are telling me about a baby that looks like a mouse. His name is Stuart. That's also the title of this book. I think Stuart is the main character."
- Teacher actions should also model how to periodically pause during reading and summarize the known text structure elements.
- Example: "I know that Stuart has a mom, a dad, and a brother George, and they live near a park in New York City. So, I know the characters and the setting in this story."
- Teach each text structure element thoroughly before integrating them with previously learned elements.
- Teach simple text structures (beginning, middle, end) in kindergarten.
- Progress to more complex text structures (main character, setting, problem, solution) in first through third grade.
- Once students demonstrate understanding of narrative text structure, introduce simple expository text structures.
- Use text structure maps and think sheets to assist student in mapping the critical elements of narrative and expository texts.
2. Literal, Inferential, and Evaluative Question Answering
- Literal questions have responses that are directly stated in the text.
- Inferential questions have responses that are indirectly stated, induced, or require other information.
- Evaluative questions require the reader to formulate a response based on their opinion.
Literal, Inferential, or Evaluative?
|Puppies are very small when they are born. They cannot see until they are about two weeks old. During this time, they stay very close to their mothers.
- What are puppies like when they are born?
- Are puppies born blind?
- Why do they stay close to their mothers?
- Would you like to have a puppy?
Teaching Literal Question Answering: Design Considerations
- Teacher actions should model how to respond to a literal comprehension question.
- Example: After reading the first section of Stuart Little, the teacher says: "What are Stuart's parents' names? Their names are Mr. and Mrs. Little."
Stuart Little by E. B. White (1973, see References)
- Begin with literal questions that are directly stated (verbatim) in the passage.
- Ask the question immediately after the information is given.
- Design questions directly stated but not verbatim.
- Increase interval between where the information is given and when the question is asked (end of paragraph, end of story).
Teaching Inferential Question Answering: Design Considerations
- Teacher actions should model explicitly how to respond to inferential comprehension questions.
- Example: After reading the first two chapters of Stuart Little, the teacher asks: "How did Stuart's size help his family? His size is helpful because he is able to do lots of things only a mouse could do."
- Design questions that cannot be answered with verbatim responses and/or use pronoun referents.
- Design inferential questions indirectly stated in the passage.
- Design inferential questions that can be induced from relationships not directly stated.
- Design questions in which other knowledge (not provided in the passage) is required to respond.
Teaching Evaluative Question Answering: Design Considerations
- Teacher actions should model explicitly how to respond to evaluative comprehension questions using opinion.
- Example: After reading the first paragraph of Chapter 3 in Stuart Little, the teacher says: "Stuart likes to be the first one up in the morning. Do you like to be the first one up in the morning in your house?"
- Begin with questions that elicit an opinion from students without requiring additional knowledge.
- Progress to questions that require students to integrate information from the passage with their knowledge and experience to develop an opinion.
- Increase interval between where the information is given and question is asked.
3. Retelling Stories and Main Ideas
- Proficient readers periodically summarize text as they read, monitoring their understanding of the passage.
- Teaching children to retell occurrences in a story or the main ideas of informational text helps them become more accurate in summarizing and monitoring their understanding.
Teaching Retelling: Design Considerations
- Teacher actions should model explicitly how to identify the main idea of a text passage.
- Example: After reading a paragraph from Stuart Little, the teacher says: "What was happening in this paragraph? Because Stuart is small, he helped his mom get her ring out of the drain."
- In the early stages (K-1), limit the amount of text to one or two sentences. Progress to more lengthy text passages by having students "tell what they've read about so far."
- If students are unable to summarize a paragraph accurately, reread the passage.
- Initially, focus on accuracy of retelling. Progress to asking students to limit their retells to the most important information.