We have recently begun our nonfiction unit in reading. We are focusing on three different types of nonfiction texts: reference, literary, and biography. In order to become a good reader of nonfiction, the students are expected to read more than just the words on the page. Most nonfiction texts include headings and subheadings, pictures and captions, and even a glossary of important words. These text features enhance a reader’s understanding of the text.
As a review of text features and their importance, we looked at a reference nonfiction text and identified all of the features that were included. The students did a rally robin with their shoulder partner listing all of the visible text features. The students also discussed with their shoulder partner how the text features helped their understanding of the text.
To further prove this point, the students were given a text without any text features. They all agreed that the text was missing something and somewhat difficult to understand. The students were then given the task to add at least two text features to the article. The most important step in this activity was to not only add the text features, but to be able to identify how the specific feature helped their understanding of the text. This activity allowed me to assess my students’ understanding of text features and their purpose.
Below is an example of a completed article. The added text features not only helped the students make sense of the article, but also made it more interesting to read.