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Charting Text Structure

This strategy rests on the observation that students need to be able to perceive and articulate the structure of a reading selection as a prerequisite for comprehension.

This pre-reading strategy offers specific guidelines for locating and interpreting structural clues in a text document. This exercise teaches students to preview a text and bring a sense of the logical framework of its content to the reading experience.

Steps to Charting Text Structure:

  1. Make photocopies of a reading assignment and distribute them to the class.

  2. Read the text aloud to the class and ask students to underline structural clues on their copies. Use a "Think Aloud" exercise to promote the exchange of student ideas about these clues. If students do not quickly pick out the obvious clues to a document's structure, be prepared to ask questions such as these:

    • What are the main headings of the document?
    • Is there an introductory paragraph or section?
    • Is there a concluding paragraph or section?
    • What are the topic sentences of each paragraph?

  3. Have students list the devices the author uses to frame or structure the document.

  4. Finally, have students write an outline of the document's structure and main ideas.

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