All language (and other subject) teachers spend at least some time teaching text features. They are so important for comprehension, but they are often overlooked, or ignored, by students. My English language learners need text features just as much as the next student, but there is a lot of vocabulary for them to learn, so I’ve developed a couple of activities to help them.
We start our units by making Text Feature Reference Books. I give students half pages with the name of the text feature printed at the top, and a few lines for text at the bottom. The students then search through magazines for examples of each text feature, cut them out, and glue them to the appropriate pages. At the bottom they write a sentence about what the text feature is and how it helps them. The book I use is something I downloaded for free long ago, and no longer know the source.
As with so many other lessons, teaching virtually required a digital version of this activity. To meet the need, I created a Text Features Digital Reference Book, for my students to complete (get a free copy using the link in the text, or by clicking the picture above). I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, and am seriously considering doing away with the paper project completely. The digital version consists of a table of contents page that lists al 15 text features. Each text feature button is hyperlinked to a slide with three sections: definition, how it helps me, photo. Students complete each slide (using the image search built into Google Slides or by uploading their own photos) using the directions provided on slide two. Each of the text feature slides also includes a button that hyperlinks them back to the table of contents. Once students have completed the project, they can use it in edit mode, present mode, or even publish it to the web for easy access. The hyperlinked buttons make it easy for them to move between features, checking definitions, and seeing examples.
To further reinforce text feature vocabulary, we also do a sort. Students are given cards that contain one of three things: the text feature, a definition, an example. Students then sort the cards, matching the text feature to its definition and example. A digital version is also available. The difficult thing about the digital drag and drop version is that the pictures are a little small. Students increase the zoom on the screen to help them, which works well, but it’s still not as convenient as I’d like. This is the first digital version of a paper activity that I’ve been a little disappointed in. The students really enjoy the paper sort, and the activity itself provides excellent practice with the vocabulary. It’s one we usually do multiple times throughout the year, and students rarely complain about the repetition. They enjoy sorts, and this one is colorful and engaging.
Hopefully this gives you a couple of new ideas for your next text features lesson. I’m teaching them again next semester, still in a remote format, so I’m going to continue thinking about how I can improve the digital sort. Happy teaching, everyone!