Interest Research and Text Structures

A 4th grade teacher came to me recently and wanted a project in which her students would use information text and also various text structures in writing – sequencing, description, cause and effect, problem and solution, and comparison. We talked a bit and with some extra ideas from our curriculum coordinator, came up with this.

Students each chose a topic of interest. I pulled a lot of books to get them started on choosing a topic, but a couple ended up asking for something else and we just pulled that at the time. I gathered topics like pyramids, Titanic, sports, Nascar, some biographies, animals, dinosaurs, SWAT, Navy Seals, anything I thought they might really like. The students chose a topic and did print research on Day 1. On Day 2, we added in using Webpath Express on Destiny and also online encyclopedias to gather online information. We gave them about 3 days I think to gather information. (It all got split up several times due to snow days, but we needed about 5-6 days in total.) The last 2-3 days were spent finding copyright friendly images, citations, and typing the paragraphs and captions for the pictures. The students also added bold words to the paragraphs and a short glossary with the project.

Once they had their information, we asked them to choose three of the five text structures that best fit their topic and complete a graphic organizer for each, then write a paragraph for each structure. Once they typed the paragraphs, they created a brochure type foldable and glued in the graphic organizers, and then stapled the typed paragraphs on top of the graphic organizer so you can lift the paragraph to see it. Add the pictures and captions and you have a nice informative project on something they wanted to know more about.

We found that giving them the choice of text structures really stretched them because they didn’t always know what information to use to meet the requirements, so they had to brainstorm a little more. Dor example, for comparisons, sometimes they ended up researching something else to compare. The student that did SWAT also researched regular police officers to compare the two. The students that did Duke Ellington had to think about how to present that information in these formats. They learned a lot and were excited about the project since they chose their topics. Here are a couple of the finished projects.

Rough drafts

Rough drafts

Rough drafts

Rough drafts





Using Creative Commons to find images.

Using Creative Commons to find images.

Fossils in progress.

Fossils in progress.




Duke Ellington in progress


Miniature Schnauzers project


Paragraphs with graphic organizers underneath



Fossils final project


Picture with caption and citation


Graphic organizer under the paragraph




They had to include bold words that they also added to a glossary in their project.



IMG_0527 IMG_0525

Edited to add: After we finished these, the students added printed photos to the covers so they showed up better. Here is an additional example.

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