Mentor Monday 2/10/14: Nonfiction Text Structures

I love linking up with Emily, The Reading Tutor, OG for her Mentor Monday and am super excited this week because it is exactly what I am working on with my fourth graders this week!

This week, we are working on nonfiction text structures.  We spent a couple of weeks working on nonfiction text features (captions, index, headings, etc.), but text structures are different.  They help the students understand what they are reading by thinking about how the author has set up the text.  This is super beneficial to students as they will see more of this in real life reading.  Think about magazines and newspapers.  They have some text features in them but not all of them. 

Teaching text features is still important because we use them when we read books and textbooks, but the text structures help the students comprehend WHAT they are reading.

I was looking for some information and came across this great post at Reading.Writing.Thinking.Sharing that helped me have a better understanding of where to start.  Then I came across this wonderful website by Mrs. Judy Araujo that helped me have an even better understanding of what and how to teach them.  The best part about these is that they are much like the Thinking Maps we are required to use in our district.  The descriptions of the features and the organizers fall in line with the ideas of Thinking Maps.  This makes my job 100 times easier!

So, this week I am starting with the nonfiction text structure of description.  To scaffold instruction for the students, I have chosen a nonfiction text about weather, which is what they are studying in science right now.  Our library didn't have what I wanted, and I didn't have time to order something, so I searched one of my new favorite sites where we can read many books for free:   We Give Books!  I picked out the book DK Eye Wonder Weather.

I won't use the entire book because two 30 minute sessions won't get it all in if I do, but I will use a portion of the book to show them how the author uses description to tell about the clouds.
We will read through this part together from my computer.  {Wish I could use it on iPad, but it is not supported.}  Then we will use the graphic organizer {Thinking Map} for description to tell about what we learned.   This will become our anchor chart for description as a nonfiction text structure.  We will also look for various signal words that help find the descriptions.
After we work with the graphic organizer to describe the clouds, the students will work in pairs to look in books about weather and for us to discuss.  The students will work together to make the graphic organizer {Thinking Map} about their topic in the books and share them with the group.  To end our lesson on the nonfiction text structure of description, the students will read a passage and create their own Thinking Map {graphic organizer} for the topic and then answer some questions about it.

There are so many great books to help students with the nonfiction text structure of description, but I can't list them all!  What are some other great books we can use to help students understand the text structure of description?


  1. I love the use of the thinking map for the description text structure. It works really well, especially for reading about weather. I definitely need to check out Judy's reading website too!
    Thanks for linking up this week! :)
    Emily, TRT/OG

    1. Thanks for hosting this linky each week! It gives me time to reflect on what I can do better as a teacher. I wish I could have used it this week, but the snow came instead. I will be doing this lesson next week now!


  2. Fourth grade is my absolute FAVORITE year! I think it is so important to teach nonfiction structures at this level as they are starting the transition from "learning to read" to "reading to learn." Thanks for sharing the website links as well!

    Krista Mahan
    Teaching Momster

    1. I, too, love teaching fourth grade. I hope this helps them out. They seem to struggle the most with nonfiction, so this has been my focus. Thanks for stopping by!


  3. Hello Andrea,
    I've just started teaching and now I'm struggling with adapting usual teaching material for kids. I've got a bunch of articles on writing a descriptive essay, like this one - . I want to get from them the information that I can give my class. Can yo please advise me what is suitable for children and what is too difficult? I'm so nervous about failing


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