Sunday, April 13, 2014

Questions to ask of chronological order text

  I usually teach chronological order text fairly early in our study of text structures. Students can draw on their understandings of narratives and their own experiences with time order to quickly build an understanding of this text structure.
    But this doesn't mean that chronological order text is simple. In fact, these texts often have deep complexities lurking beneath the surface.

How does the author play with time?
    Comparing a timeline to a chronological order text is fascinating. While timelines have a regular, ordered interval between events, chronological order texts often zoom in on certain time periods while flitting over others. An event that is important to the sequence may have several sentences devoted to it, while a less important event may be glossed over in just one or two sentences.
    With a group of fourth graders, we looked at the use of time in "Lafayette and the Battle for Freedom." Lafayette's early years are discussed very quickly in the first paragraph. The rate slows down in the second section, however. Why? How does this match with the main idea of the article as a whole?
    Noticing these differences in fourth and fifth grades can help students to have more sophisticated discussions in upper grades. How does this use of time reveal an author's bias? Why might an author want to devote more space to a particular event?

How is this different from a narrative?
    As you can see in the last post, my students really love reading about animals. Because we're doing a choice-based activity right now (Expedition Text Structure), they are happy to select animal text structure books for themselves. I've started to devote more read-aloud time to technology and history texts.
   We were reading Steam, Smoke, and Steel: Back in Time with Trains when a student said, "Wait. How is this different from a story?"
    This is a great question! It's best to send it right back to the students: "What do you think? What does a story have that this text does not?" Some texts have blurrier edges than others. These can provoke wonderful discussions. (Bad News for Outlaws comes to mind as a great example of this.)

How do the paragraphs line up with events?
   This question can lead to great discussions as students are reading. Many students will think that authors will use one paragraph for each event in a narrative. But this isn't always the case! Check out this text from my Introduction to Text Structure unit. Which paragraphs have only one event? Which have more than one? Why might this be so?

Peregrine Falcon Chronological Order from Emily Kissner

    As you can see, chronological order text can be fascinating to explore and discuss!

Other posts about text structure
-Peregrine Falcons, Chronological Order, and More! (from 2013)
-Assessing Text Structure (from 2012)
-Chronological Order Texts (from 2011)
-Comparing Texts: Chronological Order (from 2011)
-The Many Sides of Chronological Order Text (from 2011)
-Text Structure: Chronological Order (from 2010)
-Teaching Text Structure (from 2009)

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