EL Support Lesson

Text Features and Their Purposes

This lesson helps your ELs identify nonfiction text features and explain how they enhance comprehension of the text. Use it as a stand-alone lesson or a support lesson for the Searching for Text Features lesson plan.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theSearching for Text FeaturesLesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theSearching for Text FeaturesLesson plan.

Students will be able to identify informational text features and explain how the features contribute to a better understanding of the text.


Students will be able to identify text features and explain their purpose using visuals and sentence frames.

(3 minutes)
Frayer ModelSearch for Nonfiction Text FeaturesVocabulary Cards: Text Features and Their PurposesGlossary Template Write Student-Facing Language Objectives ReferenceTeach Background Knowledge Template
  • Show students a page from a nonfiction text that has a few examples of text features, such as photographs, captions, headings, bold print, and labels.
  • Ask students to turn to a partner and describe what they see on the page. (Note: Keep the question open-ended and accept all students' answers at this point even though the words they use may not be precise.) Invite a few students to share their observations and record their responses on the board.
  • Tell students that the observations they mentioned fall into a category known as Text features. Explain that text features are ways authors give their readers more information about the topic that are visually interesting. If possible, rename students' observations into the correct terminology of the text feature (e.g. If a student said, "I see words under the picture," you would explain that they are referring to the CaptionAnd Photograph.)
  • Do a choral reading of the language objective with students.
(7 minutes)
  • Inform learners that today they will learn new vocabulary for informational text features so that they may identify them when reading nonfiction texts.
  • Show the Vocabulary Cards on the document camera. Introduce students to the nine vocabulary words by reading them aloud and having students repeat them. Briefly read aloud the definition of each word.
  • Display a Frayer Model on the document camera and model how to complete all the sections for the term Text features. Include a student-friendly definition, images, examples (chart, photograph, captions), and non-examples (regular text).
  • Distribute the blank Glossary templates to each student. Instruct students to write the nine tiered vocabulary words in the first column of the Glossary.
  • Have students work in pairs to complete the Glossary using home language resources or student dictionaries. Encourage students to write the synonym of the word in their home language, if applicable, in the last column on the far right of the worksheet.
(10 minutes)
  • Inform students that today they will discover how text features help us better understand the topic of the text. Explain that when we read nonfiction, text features help us navigate the information by presenting it to us in interesting ways that catch our eyes' attention.
  • Show students the same example of a nonfiction text used in the introduction section with some or all of the text features removed. Have them consider how their experience changes when the text features are absent. Have students use the following sentence frame to discuss in partners: : "Text features help me ____."
  • Display a copy of the Searching for Nonfiction Text Features worksheet with the last two columns covered (Purpose and Citation). (Note: You could fold the paper in half in the middle lengthwise or cut off the last two columns for the teacher copy.)
  • Read aloud the information at the top of the worksheet, and have students rephrase it. Clarify any unknown vocabulary in the text features column. Remind students to refer to their completed Glossaries for help.
  • Tell students that they will explore the text features on this worksheet and practise orally discussing how they think they help us better understand a text.
  • Post the following sentence frames on the board, and model how to use them as a guide:
    • ____(text feature) show us ____.
    • The ____(text feature) helps us ____.
    • I think that ____(text feature) is important because it ____.
  • Model how to use the sentence frames to describe the term Photograph(e.g. "The photograph helps us to see what something looks like.")
  • Pair up students into effective partnerships. Have them take turns looking at one of the text features on the worksheet and using a sentence frame to describe it.
  • Ask some non-volunteers to share what they or their partner discovered in their conversation. Clarify any misunderstandings.
(10 minutes)
  • Divide the students into small groups of 3–4. Tell students that, as a group, they will choose one nonfiction text feature to study and make a poster to present the information to the class.
  • Provide a variety of simple nonfiction texts from books or magazines for students to explore for this activity. Distribute a piece of 12 by 18 inch construction paper and markers to each group.
  • Explain to students that they should write the completed paragraph frame on the construction paper and draw or cut out and glue (if it's from a magazine) examples of the nonfiction text feature on their poster.
  • Post the following paragraph frame for students to include in their presentation:
    • We chose the nonfiction text feature called ____. It is ____(description). It is helpful because it shows/explains ____. We found this text feature in ____(name of text). It gives us information about ____(description of information). We also found it in ____(another text name) and it shows ____(information).


  • Pair beginning ELs with intermediate or advanced ELs for the sentence and discourse level activities.
  • Allow beginning ELs to use bilingual resources to look up the meaning of unknown words.
  • Beginning ELs may present their poster in a small group setting rather than in front of the whole class.


  • Invite advanced ELs to prepare their poster without the paragraph frame.
  • Have ELs repeat or rephrase what their classmates say during discussions.
(7 minutes)
  • Have each group present their nonfiction text feature in front of the class.
  • Gauge student understanding based on the completed paragraph frame and examples found in their presentation.
(3 minutes)
  • Show images of various nonfiction texts one at a time, either from real texts or from images on the internet, and have students whisper to a partner the name of the text feature. Then, invite students to call out the name all together. Ask a learner to state one sentence (they may use the sentence frames as a reference) describing the purpose of the text feature.
  • Repeat the process with multiple text features.

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