Thursday, May 25, 2017

Session 11 (Research)

Session 11: Using Text Features to Strengthen Writing


Nonfiction can be like a party for your eyes!  Your eyes can dance across the page because there is so much to look at!  When the page in a nonfiction book contains lots of text features, you not only stay super engaged, but you end up learning about the topic in lots of different ways.  You tend to be more knowledgeable about a topic when you have learned about it through lots of channels: pictures, numbers, charts, maps, diagrams, text boxes- the works.  

When writing an informational text, using text features can help to teach information and to make central ideas prominent.  

Look at how the following sections from an informational text are set up.

Teaching and Active Engagement: 

Today, in small groups, you are going to study mentor texts and list all different types of text features  you find. Jot what the text feature looks like and what it does--how does this particular text feature teach information about the topic in a special way?

(Record what students found on chart paper p. 101)

Let's practice adding text features into a piece of writing.  

We shouldn't just randomly pick a text feature to try and add.  Let's look over this draft and see if there is additional related information we could teach in a new and special way, using a different form of a text feature.  

  • Add a photo or illustration of some of the destruction that is described in the beginning of the chapter- the reason that they begin with a description is for the reader to really picture this devastation in their mind
  • Add a subtitle underneath image
  • Add shocking statistics about girls who are denied an education and put it in the form of a text box-this will help highlight this information for the reader


Take out your own drafts and plan a few text features to insert into your writing.  Make sure you are thinking, "What text features might I use so that I can teach information in new and special ways?  What could I add to my writing?  What could I reformat?"

Turn and tell the person beside you what you are thinking and explain why you are picking that feature and where you might place it on the page.  

Continue to plan text features for your chapters.  You might want to add features on Post-its or on scrap pieces of paper that you tape on.  Others might need to totally reformat a chapter.

Reference the chart Writing Information Texts Well


  • Make your sentences more complex so you sound more authoritative
  • Use text features purposefully, to teach information in new and special way


Let's end the class today by sharing our text features by taking a text-feature feedback walk.  Not only are you going to study each other's work, but you're going to jot down some feedback that you'll share later.  Each of you need to set up a praise and pointers text-feature exhibits and feedback sheet.

When giving feedback, make clear compliments on their praise sheets and concrete, helpful tips on their pointers sheet.


Continue to revise your draft for text features and cohesion, referring to the "Praise and Pointers' feedback sheets you collected from your gallery walk.  You may have noticed amazing text features created by your classmates that gave you great ideas to incorporate into your own text features.  It is fine to borrow ideas from each other.

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