Thursday, July 14, 2011

Problem and Solution Text Structure

One of the problems with teaching text structure is finding the right texts. As I think about what books or articles to use with my students, I'm always thinking about levels, topics, and structure.  Which do I consider first? What's most important?

When I'm teaching text structure, of course, the structure is most important. For problem and solution, I like to use texts that are very explicit, using the words "problem" and "solution", as well as texts that are more subtle. Real world problem and solution texts often do not use these clear transition words, and I like to show students how this works.

Once I have the structure,  I have topic and level to worry about. I work in a pretty broad range of levels. After all, background knowledge has a huge impact on expository text comprehension. If I can give my readers rich background knowledge and strong pre-reading activities, they have a better chance of being able to understand the texts that I find. I like to use a pretty comfortable and easy text for whole-group reading, and then some more challenging texts for small groups.

What about topic? I hate it when we are all reading about different topics in guided reading. This just feels so fragmented! But sometimes it just can't be helped--after all, I don't have a staff of writers on demand. (Wouldn't that be wonderful?)  To help us make connections throughout the year, I try to find texts with topics that relate to science or social studies units for our grade level.

Here is a collection of texts for teaching problem and solution text structure. The cost is $3.00, and it includes 7 different texts. Five texts have before, during, and after activities, with a range of reading levels from 3-6. (Do take these reading levels with a grain of salt. When I write texts, I run them through multiple readability formulas, and then correlate those results with what I see from my students and comments from other teachers. The readability formulas vary widely, often across 2 grade levels!)

A mayfly nymph
Some of the texts may look familiar to those of you who have my former pack of Text Structure Resources--the James River Ferry, Rain Gardens, and Salamander Crossing. But each has new activities and graphic organizers to accompany them.

My very favorite text is about stream study with the biotic index--it was interesting to write about how the biotic index really does solve a scientific problem. And I got to use the cool mayfly picture that I took during stream study last week!

Looking for other books? Here are some links to problem-solution texts:

When the Wolves Returned

A Place for Butterflies

Text Structure Picture Books

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