EL Support Lesson

Searching for Text Features

Direct instruction about text features will help ELs better comprehend nonfiction texts. In this lesson, students will practise identifying text features. This lesson can be used alone or with the What's in a Text Feature? lesson plan.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theWhat's in a Text Feature?Lesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theWhat's in a Text Feature?Lesson plan.

Students will be able to identify and describe the purpose of text features in nonfiction texts.


Students will be able to identify and describe text features at a sentence level using content-specific vocabulary, sentence frames, and partner support.

(5 minutes)
Vocabulary Cards: Searching for Text FeaturesGlossary: Searching for Text FeaturesTeach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives Reference
  • Hold up a nonfiction book.
  • Ask the students to look closely at the cover of the book.
  • Call on a volunteer to share the title and author of the book.
  • Remind students that the TitleTells us what the book is about, and the AuthorTells us who wrote the book.
  • Remind students that NonfictionBooks give us facts, or real information, about a topic.
(10 minutes)
  • Create a chart on chart paper titled "Nonfiction Books."
  • Tell students that nonfiction books have things in common called text features. Explain that knowing about text features will help them to understand the book better.
  • Write "Title." Point to the title on the nonfiction book. Tape the vocabulary card image, or write the title of the book on the chart. Explain that the title of the book tells readers what the book will be about. Readers can get their minds ready to read the book by reading the title and asking themselves, "What do I think this book is going to be about?" Have students share predictions with a partner about what the example book will be about.
  • Repeat this procedure, listing the other text features and attaching an image from the corresponding vocabulary card to the chart. Show students at least one example of each text feature in your nonfiction book. Briefly explain to students the purpose of each text features as it is introduced.
  • Display the chart in the room if possible.
  • Point out cognates to Spanish-speaking students: title/título, author/autor, table of contents/tabla de contenidos, glossary/glosario.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that noticing the parts of a nonfiction book will help the reader understand the book.
  • Go back to the book you presented in the introduction. Display the following sentence frame:
    • The title of this book is ____.
  • Demonstrate finding the title of the book. Then write "title" on a sticky note and attach it to the book.
  • Display two more sentence frames:
    • The book has a ____.
    • The book has an ____.
  • Model searching for a text feature from the chart, such as the table of contents and glossary to complete the sentence. Point out that you say, "This book has AnAuthor because author begins with a vowel."
  • Display the following sentence frame for use with plurals, such as headings and captions:
    • This book has ____.
  • As you model searching for the various text features, show students how to label these text features with a sticky note.
  • Tell students that they will work in partners to search for text features in nonfiction books. Taking turns with a partner, students will find and label examples of text features with sticky notes.
  • Allow students time to work together. Each student should find and label two text features.
  • Encourage students to use the sentence frames to describe what they are labeling as they work in partners.
(10 minutes)
  • After students have identified 4–6 text features in a book, have them form a small group with another pair of students. Have students use the sentence frames to identify the text features found in their book to the other partnership.
  • Provide additional sentence frames to compare and contrast:
    • My book also has a ____.
    • Both our books have ____.
    • My book has a ____, but their book does not have a ____.
  • As they work as a small group, have students use complete sentences to explain which text features they found. Have students practise comparing text features across nonfiction texts by noticing ways that the text features found during the partner activity are similar or different from those their small group found.


  • Have students work in a teacher-led small group.
  • Have students use their home language to identify the text features.


  • Have students describe the purpose of the text feature. For example, the table of contents shows where to find information in a book.
(2 minutes)
  • Ask students to answer the following questions using the provided sentence stems:
    • What was one thing you found in your nonfiction book that could help you understand the book?
      • "One thing I found was a ____."
    • How did that text feature help you to understand the book?
      • "The ____Helped me to understand the book because ____."
(3 minutes)
  • Call on pairs to volunteer to share the text features that they found in their book.

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