What's in a Text Feature?
Help young learners answer the question, “What’s in a text feature?” with this nonfiction reading and writing lesson plan. Designed to fit into the year two curriculum, this lesson introduces readers to the many important features of nonfiction texts, such as diagrams, headings, and the table of contents. Children will explore and locate text features across various nonfiction books and practise connecting the words to the corresponding features in a helpful matching worksheet. When they are finished, learners will have a better understanding of how to locate and use the information in various nonfiction books.
Students will be able to identify and use features of a nonfiction text to find information.
- Ask students to gather on rug.
- Show two books about the same topic (for example, a nonfiction book about plants and a fiction book about a child gardening). Ask students, "What is the difference between these books?" Answers might include that one is “pretend” or “fiction” and one is about something “real” or what we call “nonfiction.” Briefly review how you might tell the difference between the two types of books. Nonfiction includes facts, teaches us something, etc. While fiction is an imaginary story.
- Show the book "Seed to Plant" by Laura Marsh (or similar nonfiction text) and demonstrate think-aloud strategies to locate information by saying, “I want to find out what a plant needs to grow. I’ll just look through this book to find out.”
- Flip through the book, pretending to read parts of each page, acting slightly frustrated that you cannot locate the information about what a plant needs to grow.
- Say, “Ah! I know, I’ll check the table of contents. Now, what words should I look for to find the information I am looking for?” Ask the students for ideas of words that might lead you to the correct page. Possible answers: dirt, plant needs, growing, etc.
- Read the table of contents headings aloud and ask students to give a thumbs up if they hear something that might tell what a plant needs to grow.
- Explain that, as readers, we can use text features in nonfiction book to find the information we are looking for. Understanding how to use text features such as the table of contents will help you to learn more from the nonfiction books you read. Tell them that in this lesson they will become detectives as they practise using text features to find out information from their books.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(10 minutes)
- Read a few more pages from the nonfiction text stopping to highlight and define text features such as titles, headings, labels, and diagrams.
- Ask students to pair-share with another student the purpose of each text feature. Have a few pairs report their thinking to the rest of the class.
- Project the Text Features Chart and capture student thinking on the chart. For example, under “Titles,” you might write, “tells reader what they will learn about.”
Guided practise(15 minutes)
- Explain that students will now become detectives as they look through nonfiction texts to find information using these text features: table of contents, headings, glossary, and labels.
- Pass out grade-appropriate nonfiction texts to the students in pairs and have them remain on the rug to work.
- Ask students to locate the table of contents in their book and read the headings to learn about the information in their book.
- Pause students and ask for 1-2 examples of information they learned from reading the table of contents.
- Ask students to locate an illustration with a picture or photograph and read the labeled parts together.
- Pause students and ask for 1-2 examples of information learned from reading the labels.
- Ask students to locate a bolded word and then turn to the glossary to identify the meaning of the word.
- Pause students and ask for an example of a bolded word they defined using the glossary.
Independent working time(10 minutes)
- Project the Find the Text Feature worksheet and go over the instructions and the example, then have students complete the worksheet independently.
- For students who need more scaffolding to complete the Find the Text Feature worksheet, create a strategic student pair to work together or bring a small group to work with the teacher.
- For advanced students, let them work independently during the guided practise portion of the lesson to read through and find text features in a nonfiction book. After completing the Find the Text Feature worksheet, provide advanced students with additional time to investigate nonfiction texts for text features.
- Collect the worksheets and assess whether students were able to match the text features to their correct example.
Review and closing(5 minutes)
- After the 10 minutes of independent work time has concluded, ask students to return to the rug and pass their worksheets to the teacher.
- Review the worksheet as a whole class. Discuss student questions as needed. Ask students to share when they might use a text feature.
- Close by saying, “Text features can help us locate and use information in a nonfiction text. When we understand what each text feature means, for example, that a bolded word will be in the glossary, it will help us to understand more about what we are reading.”