A Creative Classroom Activity for Teaching Text Features: Surgery!

Beth Orticelli

Editor's note: We are so inspired by third grade teacher-adviser, Beth Orticelli, from Illinois, who uses  Storyworks to draw students into studying “text features” in such a creative way. Her decidedly precise approach to helping students make meaning from text, “Surgery Day,” as she calls it, has children scan nonfiction stories for text features, and they love every minute of it. (Here are some in the photo above, prepping for the O.R.) Here’s how she does it—maybe you’ll want to adapt this method for your own classroom! We love this lesson, and we think it's perfect for a fun end-of-year activity that's a blast and teaches essential skills! 


Step 1: Prepare a simple Word document, making each page header a different text feature (map, chart, image, caption, Table of Contents, etc.). Leave plenty of blank space on each page so your students can later show actual examples of each text feature and write about them.


Step 2: Have students cut out examples of each text feature and tape or glue their selection of text “specimens” onto the Word doc.




Step 3: Ask students to write about each feature they have “operated” on and how it supports the Storyworks article.


Step 4: Ask students to share their surgeries with the whole class, or in groups. Follow up with a whole-class discussion of which text feature was most central to the story and why.


By the way, if you’re squeamish about destroying your precious copies of Storyworks (We get it!), use other resources instead, such as newspaper articles, news magazines, and current-events classroom magazines.


We can’t wait to hear how this goes over in your classroom. Let us know in the comments below. Happy surgery! 

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