Teaching Text Structure in Middle School

Middle School students know what text structures ARE, but now they need to know how to USE them to analyze text!  #activities #teaching

It's one thing to know what text structure IS, but it's another thing to know how to USE text structure.  For me, this is the struggle point for my middle schoolers.  

They'll gleefully tell me that a text uses the compare/contrast text structure but when I dig a bit deeper and ask things like "How does knowing that help you understand the text?", I get blank stares.  That's because they've never been asked to USE them. Well, now is the time!

How I teach students to USE text structures

1.  First I start with vocabulary.  

I include words they know like compare and contrast with words they might not have thought are connected like affect and effect.

When teaching text structures, it can helpful to start with vocabulary!  #middleschool #activities

Students record the definitions & what they know about the word.  I hang word wall cards as we go over the words.  Afterwards, students play a dominoes game to help those words stick!

2.  Teach

I teach the students a 3 step process for using text structure to analyze texts with a text, some notes and a PowerPoint.  The notes are my own design of traditional two column notes blended with interactive visuals.  I call them Pixanotes.  

There are 4 versions of the notes all with the same content but different levels of scaffolding.  One version has fill in the blanks while another has pre-printed content.  The idea is that if you have students with special needs or limited English mixed in with general education students,  you could have all 4 versions out in the same class at the same time and everyone would have something with which they could work.

Teaching middle school students to USE text structures is easy with these scaffolded visual notes!  #lesson #activities

3.  Processing Time (Practice)

After the notes, it's time for the student to process the information that was presented.  I sometimes use task cards for this and other times, I use a menu with 2 options and a new text. 

After you have taught the 3 step process for using text structures to analyze text, it's time to practice!  Differentiate the processing with menus!  #middleschool #lesson

After we have completed the processing phase, then it's time to have a quiz.  After the quiz, I'll know who's "got it" (those are the students who score 80% or better), and I'll also know who didn't "get it" (those that scored below 80%).  So that leads me to the final phase of the unit...

4. Reteach and Enrich

I use menus for this phase of the unit so that everyone has something to do which looks similar.  The students who need reteaching get an "enhancement" menu while those who are ready for enrichment get a menu that says "enrichment".  The choices are different and I tell students that everyone is getting the menu that is most appropriate for their needs.  Period.  If a student says "Why do I have this menu and not the one he has?", I reply with "This is the menu you need and this is the menu he needs."

What do you do after the text structure quiz?  Reteach or Enrich!  #middleschool #activities

The Reteach provides more support in reviewing the basics while the Enrichment menu asks the students to create something new.  Sometimes we use the products that are created in this phase to review before a final assessment.  

The benefit to this process:

This process that I have shared with you, is what I call the 
Teach-->Reteach-->Enrich method which you may have noticed has built-in differentiation for all 3 areas!  

The content (notes) are differentiated, the processing is differentiated through choice, and the reteach/enrichment activities allows for differentiation of products.  Now I can be sure I am prepared to help reach all learners!

Ready to try this text structure unit out with your students?

All the work is done in the Complete Unit Bundle - just make the copies and teach!  

Here's a complete unit for Middle School students on how to USE text structures to analyze text! It includes everything the teacher needs to Teach, Reteach & Enrich based on R.CCR.5/RI.5/RL.5 with built-in differentiation!  All the work is done! Just make the copies and teach!  #activities #lesson
Each part is also sold separately.

I hope this helps you and your middle school students use text structures to analyze text!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tips for Wrapping Up The School Year

Before you say "It's a wrap" for this school year, be sure to check out these ideas for making it a smooth finish! #organization #ideas

Believe it or not, we're nearing the end of the school year!  But before we can call it "a wrap", there's a few loose ends that need to be tied up.  

Your #2ndaryELA friends discussed some of the best ways to close out the school year both on Twitter and on Facebook Live in the #2ndaryELA Facebook Group.  
(You'll see comments from both Twitter and Facebook in the post below.)

Read on for some of their best ideas and suggestions!

Q1: Do you give any specials gifts or mementos to students at the end of the year?
A1: not really because I have on average 260 students a year, so it isn’t very cost effective.
A1: Jumping in here late tonight- Kelli from TN - 7th and 8th ELA- when I taught in elementary grade levels I would give books - but now since I am secondary and have 5 times the students I do not.
A1 in middle school I don't do student gifts. We do a reflection and celebrate!
A1 No gifts in the past in high school, but thinking about it for this yr in 6th grade
A1: I don't give any gifts, but at the end of each year I have the students write their name in the center of a piece of paper on which other students write compliments. I love joining in and the students love reading them!
Q2: What do you have to do to “shut-down” your room for the year?
A2: As far as I know, this year I don't have to do ANYTHING! Last year we moved into a new building and had to remove EVERYTHING to store at home until August. It was quite the task, so I'm happy for an easier shutdown this year!
A2: Some years we have to take everything out but some years we can just box it all up. I try to do a little each day in the 2 or so weeks leading up to the last day.

Lauralee Epplin Moss15:25 I wipe down my room. Once I came back to a sticky mess. Gross.
A2 I take down personal items, most of my wall decorations/posters, box up my desk and get everything off the floors!
A2 We have a fairly short checklist of cleaning up our room. We can leave things up and don't have to pack much up.
A2: We have to clean out our rooms completely. Nothing can be left. They buff the tile floors over the summer.
A2: put up desks, clean off counters, clean the whiteboard. Our Custodiangives is a checklist and a summer cleaning schedule
Q3: How do you organize your things to help you be better prepared for the next year?
A3: I try to keep paper assignments organized in binders, so they are easier to find next year. Everything else is organized in Google Drive folders. If it weren't for I'd be a mess!
A3: Everything will be binders. Notice I said - will be, I am still working on it.
A3: I have tried making lists of what's in every box so I am not constantly searching through boxes for the item I need.
A3 I want to take the first couple days after the school year ends to jot down notes about what to do differently. Next year I'll keep of notebook as I go
A3 I will go through any extra copies I made and toss anything I know I'm going to change
A3: my room is very organized now so that helps. I have a cupboard I put things in so it is ready to go next year.

Emily Clausen19:43 A3 My temptation at the end of the year is to shove stuff wherever I can to be “packed up”...but the years that I take the time to sort through papers and pack things in an organized way, I am always happy I did when coming back for the next year
A3 I have been purging paper files over the last few years - I've got about three more drawers to go! I keep binders of some things, but now mostly everything in Google Drive. I've been scanning hard copies this year-it helps!
Q4: Do you work on lesson plans over the summer? PD? Anything school related?
A4: Of course! I'm attending a tech summit in May and a middle grades conference in June as well as the PD! This summer I'm going to work on flipping our novel unit; then in July we have summer cheer camp :)
A4: I have 4 district PD days and 1 department collaboration day right after school gets out then I work on plans at my own pace through the summer
A4: Not if I can help it! Well at least not until late July. (We go back August 5)

Erica Pasquale Young20:26 A4: yes! We just changed our whole curriculum for next year

Erica Pasquale Young22:04 We literally just rewrote the scope and sequence. We never had themes before (it was a mess...I’m glad it changed), but I just signed myself up for a ton of work
A4: I do. My kids are older and I am able to tweak lessons and read PD books. I occasionally will go to a summer PD if it’s something I really want to do.
A4 Guilty of doing lots of summer work. With 3 little ones, I'd rather put in some time over the summer so I have less work during the school year
A4 Hoping to attend ISTE in Philly at the end of June
Q5: Share your best teacher summer relaxation tips.
A5: Do things that bring you joy! I like to read, go to the parks with my own boys, play frisbee, & work on projects around the house. In short, I like to let my mind wander.

Erica Pasquale Young22:27 I’ll read for June, think of ideas in July, and plan in August
A5 My advice to to set aside a certain amount of time to work on school stuff and stick to it
A5: Relaxing outside in the sunshine listening to music or reading a book.
A5 My goal is also to read a book a day :)
A5: I try to take the month of June and half of July off and not do anything school related. Then I start getting things ready and planned middle of July
A5: I love getting away to the lake where I have ZERO phone signal and plenty of sun! Being able to enjoy a good book is a plus too :)

Tina Boss-McIver28:01 My husband just put 24 tomato and pepper plants in the garden; I will spend lots of time canning, but I find this relaxing! :)

Erica Pasquale Young25:35 A5: Hammock time! I also don’t do any work after 8 pm at all!
I hope you found some new ideas for closing out the school year!  This was our last #2ndaryELA chat for the 2018-2019 school year but we're already planning for next year!  Would you please take a moment and give us some feedback?  We really want the chats to be useful to you.  :)

You can catch up on past chats here:

Thanks for stopping by!