Text structures by carol nichols metropolitan state college of denver nicholsc@mscd edu
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Text Structures by Carol Nichols, Metropolitan State College of Denver, [email protected] Structure of Narrative and Expository Texts. Text Structures.

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Text structures by carol nichols metropolitan state college of denver nicholsc@mscd edu

Text Structuresby Carol Nichols, Metropolitan State College of Denver, [email protected]

Structure of Narrative and Expository Texts


Text structures

Text Structures

  • The reader’s ability to see the pattern or the direction the writer is taking in a piece of text has an influence on effective and efficient comprehension.


Narrative text structure fiction

Narrative Text Structure (Fiction)

Much of the narrative text has a similar structure. Generally the following five elements can be found in narrative text:


Elements in most narrative fiction text structure

Elements in most narrative (fiction) text structure

  • A setting (where and when the story happens)

  • A character or characters

  • Events that take place in a certain order

  • A problem a character has or an objective the character is trying to achieve

  • A solution to the problem or information telling if the objective was achieved or not


Helping students learn the structure of narrative text

Helping students learn the structure of narrative text

The use of a graphic organizer before, during, and/or after the reading of narrative text can help students learn the structure of the text. A graphic organizer is a visual representation of the structure of the text.

A graphic organizer can be designed to help students recognize the structure of narrative text. Professional materials usually refer to this as developing a “sense of story” or “story grammar.”

On the next slide is a sample graphic organizer for narrative.


Customized story grammar graphic organizers

Customized story grammar graphic organizers

If story grammar graphic organizers are used frequently, the teacher sometimes customizes the graphic organizer for the specific piece of narrative the students will read. Customizing the organizer is not essential, but it does offer some variety for the students.


Customized story grammar graphic organizers for fiction

Customized story grammar graphic organizers for fiction

On the following slides are samples of some customized graphic organizers to help students learn the structure of narrative.


Text structures by carol nichols metropolitan state college of denver nicholsc mscd

Story grammar graphic organizer customized for the book Stone Soup. Organizerdesigned by Shauna Liebendorfer


Customized story grammar graphic organizer for the book the napping house by don and audrey wood

Customized story grammar graphic organizer for the book The Napping House by Don and Audrey Wood

  • Organizer designed by Haley Szmak


Customized story grammar graphic organizer for the book sylvester and the magic pebble

Customized story grammar graphic organizer for the book Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

  • Organizer designed by Renae Benedict


Knowledge of narrative text structure

Knowledge of narrative text structure

  • Narrative (fiction) text generally has one structure as seen on earlier slides.

  • Many teachers in elementary grades teach students the structure of narrative through the use of a story grammar graphic organizer.


Knowledge of expository text structure

Knowledge of expository text structure

  • Some students start to experience problems with reading during the intermediate grades – 4th, 5th, and 6th grades.

  • During intermediate grades there is generally more emphasis on reading expository text found in science, social studies, and other textbooks. In primary grades there is usually a greater emphasis on narrative (fiction).


Problems reading expository text

Problems reading expository text

  • Some educators feel these problems may be caused, in part, because students have not learned to recognize the structures that can be found in their textbooks.

  • In some elementary-grade classrooms, expository text structures are not taught as extensively as narrative text structure. One reason some students have problems with textbook reading is their lack of ability to identify the organization of a passage of expository text.


Structures of expository texts nonfiction science social studies etc

Structures of expository texts—nonfiction—science, social studies, etc.

Expository (nonfiction) text can be made up of at least six different structures. These structures are: cause and effect; compare and contrast, time sequence, problem/solution, definition/description, and enumeration or steps to accomplish something.

  • The learning of each of the structures can be enhanced through the use of graphic organizers.

  • The following slides will show a sample of some graphic organizers for some of the expository text structures.


Source of the cause effect graphic organizer on the next slide

Source of the Cause/Effect Graphic Organizer on the next slide:

  • Carol Nichols, Ed.D. Professor, Metropolitan State College of Denver, Department of Teacher Education, Reading Program.


Source of the compare contrast diagram on the next slide

Source of the “Compare & Contrast Diagram” on the next slide:

  • Black, Howard and Black Sandra, Organizing Thinking: Graphic Organizers. Critical Thinking Press & Software,Midwest Publications, P. O. Box 448, Pacific Grove, CA 93950.


Source of the time sequence linear graphic organizer on the next slide

Source of the “Time Sequence: Linear” Graphic Organizer on the next slide:

  • Carol Nichols, Ed.D. Professor, Metropolitan State College of Denver, Department of Teacher Education, Reading Program.


A time sequence cycle graphic organizer is on the next slide

A “Time Sequence: Cycle” graphic organizer is on the next slide.

The organizer helps student recognize how a series of events interact with one event leading to the next, etc. until the cycle starts over again. Some life cycle descriptions in science would be good for this type of organizer.

Children’s literature also has many examples of this type of structure. One example is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.


Source of the problem solution graphic organizer on the next slide

Source of the “Problem/Solution” Graphic Organizer on the next slide:

  • Ambruster, Anderson, and Ostertay, “Teaching Text Structure to Improve Reading and Writing,” The Reading Teacher, International Reading Association, November 1989.

  • The organizer has the student identify the problem, the action taken to solve the problem, and the results of this action.


Adapting the problem solution organizer

Adapting the Problem/Solution Organizer

The prior organizer only represents one action taken to solve the problem.

If the text describes several attempts to take action to solve the problem, the graphic organizer would then be designed to give the student space to note all of the action taken to solve the problem


Description graphic organizers which show the central theme main ideas and supporting details

“Description” graphic organizers which show the central theme, main ideas, and supporting details


Description graphic organizers

“Description” Graphic Organizers

  • NCREL (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory) website under the topic “Graphic Organizers.”

    http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/students/learning/Ir1grorg.htm has a graphic organizer

    called a “Spider Web” which is an effective design to show the central idea, its attributes, and its functions.


Source of the steps graphic organizer on the next slide

Source of the “Steps” Graphic Organizer on the next slide:

  • Black, Howard and Black Sandra, Organizing Thinking: Graphic Organizers. Critical Thinking Press & Software, Midwest Publications, P. O. Box 448, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, page 25.


Providing help to students reading expository text

Providing Help to Students Reading Expository Text

  • Spend more time on building background for the reading selection

  • This background building includes, in a general sense, concept building.

  • It also includes creating a mental scheme for the text organization. The use of graphic organizers will help students learn text organization


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