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Organizational Patterns
Background Information
  1. Every text is organized into one of the following patterns:
    • Compare/contrast
    • Time order
    • Problem/solution
    • Classification
    • Cause/effect
    • Description

  2. Student familiarity with these patterns in text greatly enhances comprehension and learning.  Knowing which pattern is being used helps the reader to:
    • Locate information in the text
    • Differentiate between what is important and unimportant
    • Mentally sequence the main ideas in a logical order
    • Synthesize ideas that appear in different locations in the text
    • Link new information to what is already known
    • Restructure and revise prior knowledge to take into account new information
Teaching Tips
  1. Content-Area Teachers can help students improve reading comprehension by making sure they understand:
    • The difference between informational text and fictional text
    • The organizational patterns typically used in your classroom text
    • How to recognize these different organizational patterns
    • The kinds of questions each pattern is intended to help answer

  2. In the following chart you will find sample questions you should be able to answer based on each organizational pattern:
    • What items are being compared?
    • What is it about them that are being compared? What characteristics of the items form the basis of the comparison?
    • What characteristics do they have in common; how are these items alike?
    • In what ways are these items different?
    • What conclusion does the author reach about the degree of similarity or difference between the items?
    • How did the author reveal this pattern?
    Time Order
    • What sequence of events is being described?
    • What are the major incidents that occur?
    • How is this pattern revealed in the text?
    • What is the problem?
    • What are the possible solutions?
    • What are the specific steps in solving the problem?
    • Do the solutions seem probable?
    • How is the pattern revealed in the text?
    • What general concept is being defined?
    • What characteristics classify the concept or subject?
    • How many different categories are being presented?
    • Do any of the categories share characteristics with other concepts or subjects?
    • How is the pattern revealed in the text?
    • What process or subject is being explained?
    • What specific causal events occur?
    • What is the outcome of the causal events?
    • What specific person, place, thing, or event is being described?
    • What are its most important attributes or characteristics?
    • Would the description change if the order of the attributes were changed?
    • Why is this description important?

M Carr

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