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Identify and Analyze Text Structure

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20 Best-practices
Reading Strategies
How is the information organized? Authors make decisions about how to present information to readers. They choose from a variety of structures to organize the information for readers:

Chronological/Sequence: (Time/Order) Chronological articles reveal events in a sequence from beginning to end. Words that signal chronological structures include: first, then, next, finally, and specific dates and times.
Cause/Effect: Informational texts often describe cause and effect relationships. The text describes events and identifies or implies causal factors.
Problem/Solution: The text introduces and describes a problem and presents solutions.
Compare/Contrast: Authors use comparisons to describe ideas to readers. Similes, metaphors, and analogies are used in compare/contrast organizational structures.
Description: Sensory details help readers visualize information.
Directions: How-To texts frame the information in a series of directions.

Readers experience a variety of text structures. Identifying the structure of a text helps readers read efficiently. Readers select specific comprehension strategies that fit a particular text based on knowledge of how the information is organized. Readers can anticipate what information will be revealed in a selection when they understand text structure. Understanding the pattern of the text helps readers organize ideas for synthesizing and summarizing.

Questions that help readers use text structures to aid comprehension:

  • Skim the article for titles, subtitles, headings, and key words. After scanning the text, how do you think the author organized the information?
  • Which framework did this author use to organize the information? Chronological? Cause/Effect? Problem/Solution? Compare/Contrast? Description? Directions?
  • Does the author use a combination of structures?
  • How did the author organize the text to be “reader-friendly”?
  • Which text features helped you collect information from the article?


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