Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup


Disciplinary Literacy

Reading: Big Ideas

Text Structures

Writers organize their ideas within different text structures to communicate and emphasize important information as well as their purpose for writing. Identifying the text structure will assist readers in understanding important ideas during and after reading. It also will provide a model for their own written discourse. Narrative text has a basic structure that includes setting, characters, problem/conflict, plot/episodes to resolve the conflict, and resolution. As texts become more complex, this format may become more intricate, expanded, and detailed, but the core structure remains the same. On the other hand, expository text, which comprises most of disciplinary reading by students in school and in later workplace settings, often contains multiple text structures, which can initially present a challenge to readers as they try to make sense of text ideas. Common structures of expository text are:

  • Description: Information is organized around main ideas followed by supporting details
  • Sequence: Information is presented in a specific order based on chronology (e.g., events, steps in a process)
  • Compare/Contrast: Key concepts are compared for similarities and differences
  • Cause/Effect: Topics are presented based on a relationship between causes and effects
  • Problem/Solution: A problem is introduced with subsequent information that leads to a solution

These expository text structures may be used to present written text or visuals/graphics to highlight the important ideas to understand.