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Craft and Structure

A young reader might naturally assume that in any given language, every novel, cookbook, newspaper article, and how-to-manual would be written in the same style using words and phrases that conveyed the same meaning. Close observation across different genres reveals that this is not at all the case. To be successful, readers must selectively differentiate reading strategies and prior understandings associated with a particular type of reading and the topic of the text. Every content domain is characterized by a particular set of related concepts. Every domain has its own specialized language and phrases that communicate specific meanings to ideas within that content realm. Identical terms used in different domains can convey completely different intentions.

Authors use a variety of physical text structures to organize how they present information in non-fiction text. The text’s layout influences how students interact with and derive meaning from a piece of informational text. The way that authors use captions, illustrations, bold and italicized print, and tables and diagrams, etc. to make their points is quite discipline specific. Most informational text draws from the cause-effect, problem-solution, compare-contrast, chronological sequencing, description, or directions style of writing. When readers learn how to identify the text’s structure based on how the information is organized within a domain, they can apply comprehension strategies that are appropriate for a particular type of text. Understanding the pattern of the text helps readers to efficiently organize, synthesize, interpret, and summarize information.

Associated Standards

RI.K.4. With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
RI.K.5. Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book.
RI.K.6. Name the author and illustrator of a text and define the role of each in presenting the ideas or information in a text.

RI.1.4. Ask and answer questions to help determine or clarify the meaning of words and phrases in a text.
RI.1.5. Know and use various text features (e.g., headings, tables of contents, glossaries, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text.
RI.1.6. Distinguish between information provided by pictures or other illustrations and information provided by the words in a text.

RI.2.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
RI.2.6. Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.
RI.2.7. Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.

RI.3.4. Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area.
RI.3.5. Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently.
RI.3.6. Distinguish their own point of view from that of the author of a text.

Scaffolded Ideas
  • Words are the smallest units of language that can stand alone.
  • Sometimes, words that surround an unknown word give clues about what it means.
  • Sometimes two words mean the same thing or have opposite meanings.
  • Studying the words that surround an unknown word can be used to understand what it means.
  • Certain words are used to describe the exact order in which events occurred, when things happened, and spatial relationship among objects and events.
  • Academic words are those which appear with high frequency in English-language academic texts.
  • Certain words are commonly associated with specific content topics.
  • Some words express opinions; others express facts.
  • Every book consists of major and minor text features that serve individual purposes.
  • Knowing how to efficiently use different text features enables a reader to gain a better understanding of the information presented by the author.
  • Locating digital information requires understanding of various electronic search options.
  • Authors use various writing techniques to focus the reader’s attention on details or opinion that they want to emphasize.
  • A point of view is the standpoint from which an author or a reader sees things or the opinions that they hold about a subject.
  • Because of prior thoughts and experiences, readers may find that their own point of view may differ from the author’s.