When introducing text features, teachers often get stuck on helping students learn to identify the different types of nonfiction text features and finding those text features in text. This is a great place to start, but we don’t want to stop there! Below are some text features writing integration ideas that will encourage students to use higher level thinking skills and it will make it much more meaningful to students.
When students are asked to include charts, tables, bold letters, headings, bullet points, and other text features in their own writing, they are using skills that will prepare them for 21st century jobs. Think about all of the emphasis that is placed on graphics and images in our world today – businesses constantly post infographics, images, and other text features on social media in order to try to draw in your business. Being able to present information in a visual, easy to understand way is a very valuable skill in our world today.
Text Features Writing Integration: Adding Text Features to Text
It can be easy for students to draw a picture, add it to their writing, and call it quits. We need to challenge students to think about including text features that are meaningful and make text easier to understand.
One way to do this is to give students a text with the text features missing, and have them add appropriate, relevant text features. Tell students to add the headings, captions, diagrams, and other text features that are missing. ADDED BONUS: When students are asked to add appropriate headings, they are practicing their main idea skills as well!
This is so easy to do with nonfiction books or textbooks. Make a copy of a page in a nonfiction book that has a lot of text features, white out the text features, and ask students to add their own! It’s easy, fun, and it requires students to read the text carefully in order to add text features that actually fit with the text!
Text Features Writing Integration: Adding Text to Text Features
Another approach is to give students a text feature like a chart or a diagram and have the students write relevant text about the text feature. This can be as simple as giving students a photograph and having them write a caption, or giving students a heading, and having them write a relevant paragraph!
This activity can be easily differentiated as well. Give your more advanced learners interesting diagrams or charts that they will have to interpret before writing. Start your struggling students with a photograph or title to write about.
For a fun center activity, take advantage of all of those old magazines and newspapers you don’t know what to do with – they are STUFFED with text features. Cut out some school appropriate text features, place them in a writing center, and have students choose a text feature. Then, ask students to write a short paragraph or article that incorporates the text feature in a relevant way.
Have Students Include Text Features in Their Own Writing
Once students understand how text features can help make text easier to read and more meaningful, start asking students to add text features in their own nonfiction writing. Begin expecting students to add headings, images, captions, bold letters, and other text features any time they write. Eventually this will become habit, and students will begin to add text features naturally to their writing.
Find more free text feature resources here!
My Text Features: Building Understanding Resource includes all of the activities listed above and more if you would like the fun of completing these activities without all of the prep!
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