Looking for classroom-ready chronological order texts with graphic organizers, multiple choice questions, and teaching plans? Check out this resource: Chronological Order Texts for Teaching Text Structure
I love teaching text structure because I love exploring all of the different ways that authors can play around with expressing ideas. (See my Pinterest board for some texts.)
Today I shared a wood frogs text with a group of readers. I had selected texts for the class based on a quick interest survey designed by one of my fabulous colleagues. A student agreed to tabulate the results (for 10 coupons, our classroom currency) with these unsurprising results.
I love the other ideas listed at the bottom. I will have to start working on some texts about gems, koalas, and technology! (Or maybe koalas who create technology with gems...hmm...)
From text to graphic organizer
In the small group, we started by looking at the text, especially the headings. "The headings don't really help you know the topics," one student mused.
I modeled a strategy for note-taking with chronological order text by underlining and numbering events in the text. We went section by section through the text, discussing which paragraphs introduced new events and which gave additional information about events. (Notice that a student convinced me to add an event. Awesome!)
A quick note about this: Looking for these events is a fuzzy process. There may be multiple ways of considering what are separate events and what can be lumped together. After all, I wrote the wood frog text and a student convinced me to change my mind about an event.
Don't turn away from this fuzziness. If you're not sure about something, tell the students. "Would this be one event, or two? What do you think?"
After we had our events underlined, making the graphic organizer was easy. I modeled the process of writing first and then putting boxes around the text. We also talked about how to change the wording and condense ideas.
Notice that this is not beautiful, but quickly sketched and displayed with the help of the document camera.
From graphic organizer to summary
I love scaffolded summaries. If I were ever to be able to write another edition of the summarizing book, I would add a whole chapter about scaffolded summaries! These frames help students to see what the summary should look like while still giving them some work to do.
Fourth grade readers are always asking, "How long should this be?" when asked to write a summary! So I introduced the scaffolded summary by asking students to count the sentences. How does this relate to the original text?
Then, we went between the scaffolded summary and the graphic organizer. We explored which events were put together in the summary, and why. Then we filled in the blanks and read the entire thing. Some blanks could have multiple answers, while others required just one.
A scaffolded summary is a good first step for summarizing chronological order text. Often, kids love the details of the text so much that they just can't discard any, and their summaries go on and on and on. Explicit teaching about how to combine events (also known as "collapsing lists") helps them to confront this tendency and try to avoid it.
Our next step is for students to write the graphic organizer and summary independently. To give them some choice, I've set up a box with a wide variety of chronological order texts. They can browse the box and select the texts that interest them.
-The wood frog text used above is available in Chronological Order Texts. Wood frog eggs are in vernal pools now and are great for the classroom!