Top Teaching Strategies: Nonfiction Text Structure - Lucky Little Learners

Top Teaching Strategies: Nonfiction Text Structure

Blog Posts, Comprehension, ELA

Written by: Katie Palmer

Trying to spice up your reading instruction by using more nonfiction? Instruction in nonfiction can be the missing piece for many readers. One skill to work on is Nonfiction Text Structures! Why teach this skill? Teaching nonfiction text structure helps readers set a purpose for reading nonfiction as well as aids in their nonfiction comprehension and comfort. Also, by recognizing how their nonfiction text is organized, students can look for certain components to understand the text better.

Teaching nonfiction text structure helps readers set a purpose for reading nonfiction as well as aids in their nonfiction comprehension and comfort. Also, by recognizing how their nonfiction text is organized, students can look for certain components to understand the text better.

Nonfiction text structure is the way the text is organized by the author. There are five categories of nonfiction text types:

  • Descriptive
  • Sequence
  • Compare & Contrast
  • Cause & Effect
  • Problem & Solution

Check out the ideas below to teach each type of nonfiction text structure!

Wait! Want to check out a resource that includes ALL of the skills? Click HERE to read about (or HERE to see a video of this product in our shop) our ever-growing 2nd Grade Reading Comprehension Passages Bundle! Nonfiction Text Structure passages were JUST added!

Nonfiction text structure is the way the text is organized by the author. Nonfiction texts can be broken into five categories: descriptive, sequence, compare and contrast, cause/ effect, and problem/ solution. Practice with 2nd or 3rd graders using text structure reading passages from Lucky Little Learners.

Also, we have a GREAT Toothy Nonfiction Text Structure set! Check out the DIGITAL or PRINTABLE version!

These skills are best introduced one at a time! AND it is a great idea to use a visual to teach each type of nonfiction text structure. Click on the image below to see a great colored poster set from Amazon! Note: This is an Amazon Affiliate link.

When introducing these text structures, try using this catchy music video from Flocabulary!

Also, movie clips are always an engaging way to capture students’ attention. Check out THESE movie clip ideas put together by Literacy for Big Kids to teach nonfiction text structures.

Descriptive Nonfiction

When you have your descriptive nonfiction visual displayed, show students the signal words to look for: for example, for instance, such as, or adjectives, etc.. Finding a nonfiction passage or book full of photographs or illustrations with labels is a GREAT way to demonstrate description nonfiction. (Anything by Gail Gibbons works great!) After reading the descriptive text, have students fill out a bubble map graphic organizer on the topic of the passage/book. They will realize how much they learned about the topic by the descriptive words the author used!

Sequence

When teaching this type of nonfiction text structure, have students look for the following signal words: first, next, then, last, before, after, etc..

(Sequencing is easily taught with fiction texts. Many teachers start with that skill before using nonfiction. Check out some sequencing ideas in THIS post!)

A nonfiction text that teaches students the step to complete something, a life cycle, OR the timeline of events of a historical event are examples of this type of text structure. After reading, have students list the steps or events in chronological order on a sequencing organizer.

Compare & Contrast

Many science readers will work for teaching this nonfiction text structure. First, teach the signal words of this type of nonfiction text structure: similar, likewise, both, differences, in contrast, etc.. Books that compare two types of animals, like the Who Would Win series are GREAT for teaching this skill! Note: These are Amazon Affiliate links.

Many of these stories are available at local libraries as well! After reading the Who Would Win book of your choice, have students use a Venn diagram organizer to compare and contrast the two animals featured. (This book could also extend into a survey and bar graph of students’ favorite animal in the book or a prediction of which animal will win!)

After reading the Who Would Win book of your choice, have students use a Venn diagram organizer to compare and contrast the two animals featured. (This book could also extend into a survey and bar graph of students' favorite animal in the book or a prediction of which animal will win!)

Want more ideas for teaching compare and contrast in the classroom? Check out THIS post! (Using fiction for the skill too? Check out THIS post on using fairytales!)

Cause & Effect

This is one of the more abstract types of nonfiction text structures. Teachers may need to read several examples of texts/passages before students grasp it. Signal words to teach students are: because, so, as a result, since and therefore, etc.. Examples of nonfiction texts that use this structure would be ones focusing on historical events or natural events like tornadoes, volcanoes, hurricanes, etc.

An example activity, would be to read a weather book. Talk about the weather conditions needed for the tornado or hurricane to develop. Talk about what happens because of the weather event. Have students list the causes and effects of the weather event on their graphic organizer.

Practice the cause and effect nonfiction text structure

Hopefully through this whole group activity, students will better understand this type of nonfiction text structure.

Want more practice with cause & effect? Don’t forget the 2nd Grade Reading Cause & Effect Nonfiction Passages AND Cause & Effect Toothy, which is part of THIS bundle.)

Problem & Solution

The last nonfiction text structure to teach is problem & solution. This one is usually familiar to students from fictional stories. Signal words to teach are: because, if/then, so, etc.. Books that use this text structure often talk about a problem in life/society that was solved through an invention or other means.

The book WHOOSH! by Chris Barton, talks about the invention of the super soaker squirt gun! It is available on Amazon or Epic reading!

This book talks about the problem the inventor had in getting his inventions developed. Students can fill out a problem/solution organizer to talk about the events of the book. This is just one example of a book to use when teaching this skill!

Hopefully these ideas help your students grasp nonfiction text structures and apply those skills to boost reading comprehension!

Want more ideas? Head on over to the biggest PLC on the planet, our Facebook group Lucky 2nd Grade Teachers.

Remember, together we are better!

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Teaching nonfiction text structure helps readers set a purpose for reading nonfiction as well as aids in their nonfiction comprehension and comfort. Also, by recognizing how their nonfiction text is organized, students can look for certain components to understand the text better.

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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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