Using Text Features to Build Literacy

Text features provide students important clues and cues for comprehending text. Some common text features are:

  • Table of Contents
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Bold Words
  • Headings and Titles
  • Maps
  • Diagrams
  • Illustrations
  • Charts

Teaching students how to identify and use text features is an important step in building student literacy. One effective way to teach this is by using text feature walks.

A text feature walk helps students read text features in order to help them make connections and prepare to read associated text. Studies show that using this strategy improves student understanding of text features and overall comprehension.

5 Steps for an Effective Text Feature Walk

  1. Organize students into small groups and have each of them choose one person to start..
  2. That person names the first text feature (Is it a heading? Picture and caption? Map?).
  3. That same person reads the text feature.
  4. As a group, the students discuss any predictions, questions, and connections they have based on the text feature. They also discuss how they think it will relate to the main idea. Everyone should contribute.
  5. Another student shares the next text feature and repeats steps 2–4. Repeat until all of the text features have been discussed or you call time.


Teaching in Action:

This video segment above showcases several different teachers using text features to guide student comprehension and help students build a mental framework for identifying and remembering the main ideas and key details of a text. This segment also comes with a downloadable study guide that offers pre- and post-viewing discussion prompts as well as links to additional resources for teaching reading comprehension.

These materials are part of a comprehensive series of videos and downloadable resources on teaching literacy, available only on Edivate [].

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