Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Many Sides of Chronological Order Text

Well! I'm hoping for a full week this week, because we're working on chronological order text structure. Snow, stay away!

Last year, I wrote about questions to ask of chronological order text. This year, I'm going one step further to look at the different sides of chronological order text. More so than any other text structure, chronological order comes in great variety. This makes it important to help students see all of the different permutations of chronological order nonfiction so that they can use this structure effectively.

Here are some of the texts that we'll be looking at:

How-to/Procedural: This kind of chronological order exists in an almost hypothetical time. Instead of telling about an event that has already happened, how-to texts look to the future to events that can happen. A great way to help students see different kinds of how-to texts is to look at directions for paper snowflakes. How are the different sets of directions similar? How are they different? Why is it important that directions are written in chronological order? What text features does the author use?

Biography: Biography fits into an interesting category, straddling expository and narrative text. But these are great to use to look at chronological order. Often, biographies will start with an event from the middle or end of a person's life, and then go back and tell the story in order. Look at how biographies link events and show the passage of time. It's interesting to get several biographies of the same person and look at how the authors played around with time in each one. How does the author show the passage of time? What parts does the author skip? How does the author show the chain of events? Is there a timeline that puts it all together?

Animal Life Cycle: This sub-genre of informational text is popular with kids! These texts show how an animal grows and develops. Often, they include the familiar cycle diagram that shows how one life stage leads to another. John Himmelman writes many lovely books that show the life cycles of different animals. Others can be found in Toolkit Texts or on the shelves of the library. How does the author connect the events? Is there a diagram that summarizes the life cycle? How are these texts similar to other chronological order texts?

Historical Events: These texts can tell about an event over time, or show how something has developed and changed over the years. These are often more difficult for students, and are a kind of text that they are less likely to pick up and read on their own. But understanding how chronological order is shown in these texts is essential for students who need to understand content area texts. Why are these texts written in chronological order? What is the time span of the event?

To help my students understand these different kinds of texts, I've made a set of centers that show the different kinds of chronological order texts. We'll see how it works--if the storm stays away!

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