October 27, 2013

Descriptive Text Structure: Way More than I Ever Expected to Discover!

            In an earlier post, I explained how I have been focusing on text structure.  We have been hard at work looking at descriptive text structure.  We followed a similar fashion of learning about sequential text structure.  We glued in our two guiding pages into our reading journal.  Why two you ask?  In Florida, we can never do what the rest of the world does-we have to make our own standards and rules.  The rest of the educational world knows this text structure as descriptive, but for the FCAT they need to know it as define and explain.  This actually works out ok, because there is some foundational learning by using that terminology.  Anyways, here’s how we rolled out learning about the descriptive text structure.

First, we examined our Science books.  Our first, in the book, chapter starts out with this very text structure.  We used the graphic organizer to break down the information found in the text.  This was relatively easy.  It was descriptive AND IN ORDER!  We were able to look at how important each term was to the MAIN IDEA of the page.  What we took away was that this descriptive/define and explain model helped us to understand what groups of plants are.

Next, we hit up our mentor text, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  In our reading journals, we built a model of the graphic organizer.  Students charted one of the characters, Veruca Salt, from one of the chapters.  It was rather obvious that this was a descriptive chapter-Roald Dahl does an excellent job at switching back and forth between the two at the beginning of the text.  The students gathered all the evidence they could to support the definition of descriptive texts.  Here are a couple of samples of what they came up with. 

From this, we were able to determine, yet again, that it was IN ORDER!  There is a fine line between these two text structures.  They both organize themselves, but, as a student pointed out, descriptive is SUPER organized so that the description overpowers the sequencing.  Very interesting.  Yes, the author has to be SUPER organized to get their point across when they are writing in the descriptive style.   Amazing learning!

We were ready now-ready for a bigger challenge.  At this point, we dug out our reading journals, we grabbed our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and we added to this a blank piece of construction paper!  Construction paper!  Yes, it was time for a construction paper challenge.  On the construction paper, students created two boxes.  At the top, they wrote, “Sequencing:  Chapter ___ Evidence.”  On the other side they wrote, “Descriptive:  Chapter ___ Evidence.”  Then I pointed them to chapter 9 and 10!  Their mission-discover which one was which and provide at least 4 pieces of evidence- it was amazing!  They dug in and searched through each chapter to find the evidence.  They used key terms and the facts columns to justify their selections.  If they got off the scent, it was easy to point them back.  In fact, I had a table of 4 where 3 were going in the wrong direction and one of my struggling students could justify and explain why to them!  Here are a few samples of the end product.

We also made a chart of our discoveries.  This chart included the sentences the students found and some of our own discoveries about how the lengths of paragraphs impacted the type of text it was as well! 

Even with all this learning, I was beginning to question myself-was I spending too much time on this, was it important enough to spend this time on, was there enough here to keep going?  Boy, did I discover what I was really teaching!  I’ll be posting again tomorrow, because I don’t want to get too close to Halloween because it involves a fun “readcraftivity” opportunity to try with a descriptive text!!!

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