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Top Lang Disorders


Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 339349
Copyright  c 2010 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Learning From Expository Texts


Classroom-Based Strategies for
Promoting Comprehension and
Content Knowledge in the
Elementary Grades
Kendra M. Hall-Kenyon, PhD; Sharon Black, MS
One of the primary purposes of expository text in education is to teach new content. Because
elementary grade children are accustomed to applying their literacy skills to reading and writing
narratives, they must be taught new skills if they are to access expository content effectively. These
skills and practices can be challenging because expository texts require students to handle unfamil-
iar structural factors (e.g., structural patterns, text features, text signals) in conjunction with new
and often challenging content. Children with language impairments or risks often have particular
difficulties with these skills. This review article explores some of the challenges associated with
expository texts and suggests instructional strategies that may help teachers and speechlanguage
pathologists (SLPs) focus on the relationship and interaction between text content and structure
to support childrens comprehension and content knowledge. Key words: content knowledge,
expository text, expository comprehension, instructional strategies, text structure

A S children progress from learning to read


to reading to learn (Chall, Jacobs, &
Baldwin, 1990), they are expected to learn
knowledge of story structure and can la-
bel the parts (e.g., character, setting, prob-
lem, solution, outcome), they are used to
new content from expository texts on a wide it, and even very young children know
variety of subjects, often with little or no sup- what to anticipate (Pappas, 1993). In con-
port. Many educators assume that reading is trast, expository texts are organized in many
reading and that the skills that brought stu- different ways, ranging from a simple list
dents through picture books and simple nar- to a complex causation structure (Carnine,
ratives will continue to serve their needs. Silbert, & Kameenui, 1990; Gajria, Jitendra,
Many children who have had little or no dif- Sood & Sacks, 2007). Second, expository texts
ficulty reading narrative texts struggle when require unique information-gathering skills
faced with expository materials (Duke & that create challenges beyond those encoun-
Kays, 1998). Expository texts present sev- tered in narrative texts (Duke & Kays, 1998).
eral new challenges. First, narrative texts Children must learn where and how to find
generally follow one typical story structure. meaning, along with how to make it useful.
Whether or not students have an explicit Third, much of the students exposure to ex-
pository texts occurs during content area in-
struction, where the focus is often on facts
Author Affiliations: Department of Teacher and content, not necessarily on the literacy
Education, (Dr. Hall-Kenyon), and David O. McKay processes necessary to obtain them. Rather,
School of Education, (Ms. Black), Brigham Young much of the direct literacy instruction chil-
University Provo, Utah.
dren receive is during lessons focused on nar-
Corresponding Author: Kendra M. Hall-Kenyon, PhD, rative texts and does not include language
Early Childhood Education, Department of Teacher
Education, Brigham Young University, 206M MCKB and literacy skills related to expository texts
Provo, UT 84602 (kendra hall@byu.edu). (Dreher & Dromsky, 2000).
339

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340 TOPICS IN LANGUAGE DISORDERS/OCTOBERDECEMBER 2010

When dealing with expository texts, chil- with adaptations to specific lessons, assign-
dren have to obtain domain knowledge at ments, and tests, as well as extension activities
the same time they gain a working knowl- that provide students with additional practice
edge of organizational aspects of the text and (Ehren, 2000).
text-processing strategies (Garner, 1987). Ad- In this article we summarize some of the
ditionally, they must acquire the language pro- challenges associated with expository texts
cessing abilities required by expository top- on the basis of an informal review of the
ics and presentation (Scott & Balthazar, 2010, literature and suggest instructional strategies
this issue). In addition to wading through to help teachers and SLPs meet these chal-
new, often difficult, content, the reader of lenges as they work together to support chil-
expository text must have a complex set of drens comprehension and content knowl-
skills for dealing with it (Ogle & Blachowicz, edge. Challenges and instructional strategies
2002). While children of all ability levels may are considered in three areas: (1) understand-
struggle with some of the unique features of ing text structure and its relation to content,
expository texts, children with language dis- (2) dealing with language and linguistic con-
abilities and differences often face additional ventions of expository texts, and (3) utilizing
challenges due to the complexity of the text features for navigating and locating infor-
cognitivelinguistic tasks that are involved mation in expository texts.
(Gajria et al., 2007). Ultimately, teachers and
SLPs need to work together to address these
difficulties and explicitly teach children with TEXT STRUCTURE
and without disabilities the strategies they
need to comprehend a wide variety of texts Children as young as second grade show
(Duke & Pearson, 2002; Palmer & Stewart, some awareness of expository text structure
2005). (Hall, Sabey, & McClellan, 2005; Williams et
Elementary teachers and SLPs can collab- al., 2005; Williams, Stafford, Lauer, Hall, &
orate in a number of ways to support chil- Pollini, 2009). As children become older, it
drens comprehension of expository texts. For becomes critical that they develop strategies
example, an SLP can work with the class- for identifying expository structures and us-
room teacher and provide supplemental small ing them as guides for text comprehension
group instruction that focuses on inference as (Gajria et al., 2007).
well as overall comprehension (Silliman, Bahr,
Beasman, & Wilkinson, 2000). These are ar- Awareness of text structures
eas that can be particularly crucial as students When gaining text structure awareness,
learn to sort through and reason with factual children first need to understand concepts
content. In addition to more traditional small like compare and contrast, cause and effect,
group instruction, teachers and SLPs can en- and problem and solution as a foundation
gage in coteaching or team teaching in the for learning to identify the related macrostruc-
regular classroom as a component of response ture of a text (Hall et al., 2005; Williams et al.,
to intervention activities or other program- 2005). Five general internal text structures are
ming. Ehren (2000) recommended copresent- commonly found in expository text: descrip-
ing lessons in expository content areas such tion, sequence, comparecontrast, cause
as social studies, with the SLP guiding the stu- effect, and problemsolution (Cook & Mayer,
dents with language disorders in using the 1988; Englert & Hiebert, 1984; Meyer &
strategies they have practiced during therapy Freedle, 1984; Meyer & Poon, 2001). Each
sessions in the context of content area instruc- structure is associated with specific words
tion. Finally, teachers and SLPs can engage that act as clues or signals that help the
in a consultative relationship (Hadden & Pi- reader to identify or label texts (Meyer
anta, 2006) in which SLPs can help teachers & Poon). A readers awareness of these

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Learning From Expository Texts 341

structures can help in mapping, anticipating, texts (see also Williams, Taylor, & deCani,
locating, and processing the content of ex- 1984). Students also need to evaluate rele-
pository texts. Thus teachers and SLPs should vant information continuously and to reject
explicitly teach these structures and provide less important material so they can under-
students with numerous examples of them stand how ideas come together in a structured
(McGee & Richgels, 1985). pattern and how information fits within main
Some educators question the value of ex- ideas.
plicitly teaching text structures because many Teachers and SLPs may be able to best
of the informational texts that children en- support students learning by providing them
counter are not well structured; rather they with skills for processing content knowledge
are a mix of structures, or they overempha- in connection with explicit text structure. Sys-
size description, which is the vaguest and of- tematic instruction that considers the unique
ten the most difficult pattern for children to features of informational texts (e.g., text struc-
discern. Our experience suggests that many ture, text features, text signals) in conjunc-
students need explicit instruction with each tion with content (e.g., concepts and vocab-
of the regular text structures before they ulary) may help students increase their abil-
are equipped to handle a messy text that ity to comprehend expository texts, providing
does not follow one structure throughout or a better model for instruction in the content
makes even a coherent structure difficult to areas.
discern.
One strategy for dealing with poorly struc- Use of hierarchical structure
tured texts is to impose a structure on a par- to predict content
ticular portion of content to help students Differentiating between major and minor
understand the relationship of ideas; result- topics and finding the differences between
ing in deeper content knowledge (Hall, Smith, topics and supportive details are essential
& Losser, 2007). For example, the overall skills for comprehension (Meyer, Brant, &
structure of the childrens book Mountains, Bluth, 1980). Students who have limited expe-
by Seymour Simon (1994) could be classi- rience with expository texts may struggle to
fied as a description, although there are sec- predict or anticipate content based on topic
tions that represent a variety of structures. In sentences, overviews, or headings that allude
this text, several different types of mountains to the main idea. To support students, teach-
are described (e.g., fault-block, volcanic, and ers and SLPs can give the students a topic or
folded). Teachers and SLPs can help students topic sentence and ask them to practice pre-
use the information about the different types dicting what kinds of things are likely to be in-
of mountains to create a matrix that illustrates cluded in the text (Englert & Thomas, 1987).
the similarities and differences (e.g., how are For example, following the comparison of the
they formed, where are they located, what do mountains, Simon (1994) begins a new page
they look likeSmith, Draper & Hall, 2005) paragraph, As soon as mountains rise, they
rather than just describing each of the differ- begin to be worn down steadily and slowly by
ent types of mountains separately. the forces of erosion: wind, rain, moving wa-
ter, and ice, as well as temperature and chem-
Interaction of structure and content ical changes (n.p.). After reading this topic
Comprehension of expository texts re- sentence from the board or from chart pa-
quires readers to handle both topical and per, the teacher might ask the students to pre-
structural factors simultaneously (Flood, Lapp dict the kind of information they think will be
& Farnan, 1986). Williams (1984) showed that in the paragraph. The paragraph indeed con-
rejecting or accepting relevant information as tains information about the physical and
it relates to the overall organization of text chemical forces that wear down mountains.
is fundamental to comprehending expository The following pages describe other forces

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342 TOPICS IN LANGUAGE DISORDERS/OCTOBERDECEMBER 2010

that slowly wear down mountains. Words the center, branches groupings of informa-
and phrases including as well as, also, and tion off from that center and branches fur-
sometimes help students follow the relation- ther into supporting points (Graves et al.,
ship of the information. After the skill has 2001). Although the web is perhaps the most
been introduced in whole class instruction, commonly used graphic organizer in elemen-
SLPs can work with small groups on repeated tary school, it is generally not helpful with
examples to provide supplemental instruc- other structures. A web does not demonstrate
tion using similarly simple and obvious exam- comparison relationships, but a matrix does,
ples until students can find the connections organizing attributes along two or more di-
independently. mensions (Calfee & Chambliss, 1989), with
The process also can be altered to approach columns to represent the concepts and rows
the relationship from different directions. The to portray comparisons along the dimensions
instructor can read the entire paragraph with (Robinson & Kiewra, 1995). Similarly, each
the students (in a form that they can follow vi- structure has a graphic organizer that best ex-
sually) and guide them in discerning what the emplifies its organization.
topic sentence is and which information sup-
ports it. Or the teacher may give the students
a list of facts, such as ways that mountains af- Using a tree diagram for any structure
fect weather, and ask them to create a topic If some children have difficulty connecting
sentence. each structure to a specific organizer, a gen-
eral branching structure (tree diagram) may
Use of a graphic organizer to visualize be created, supplemented with headings, ex-
structure planations, or connections such as arrows.
The general tree diagram can be quickly and
As students become aware of text struc-
easily generated, and children can quickly be-
tures and are able to identify them, graphic
come familiar with it and apply it to any
organizers can be used to help them com-
text.
prehend and recall texts (McGee & Richgels,
The teacher or SLP also can support stu-
1985; Slater, 1985). Graphic organizers de-
dents in comprehending via a tree diagram
pict textual relationships (Moore & Readence,
by inserting mini treesat appropriate places
1984) and provide readers with a way to map
in the margins of texts and providing the
outthe text in a meaningful way so that think-
overall tree diagram on a separate sheet of
ing becomes external (Calfee & Patrick, 1995;
paper. During the discussion, the instruc-
Graves, Juel, & Graves, 2001). Thus the use
tor/interventionist should refer periodically to
of graphic organizers can help students deal
and fill out the graphic representation to ori-
with both the topical and structural aspects
ent the student to the overall text organiza-
of text as they visually represent the relation-
tion and to fit specific pieces of information
ship among the ideas or content of the text.
into the structure. Talking children through
Although children with disabilities may have
the diagram may maximize the benefit of the
initial difficulties in constructing graphic or-
graphic representation (Stahl & Vancil, 1986).
ganizers, studies have shown that significant
The teacher or SLP first should model the pro-
improvements have resulted from their use
cess of creating a graphic organizer from a
(Gajria et al., 2007).
previously read text (modeling it repeatedly
for small groups or individuals needing it).
Using text-specific organizers Then students should fill in missing informa-
Many organizers are applicable to specific tion from predeveloped tree diagrams (cloze
text structures. For example, a topical net procedure), create their own tree diagrams,
(or web) is ideal for description. It places or generate a text or oral explanation from a
the main idea in the middle of the web as graphic representation (Sweet & Snow, 2003).

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Learning From Expository Texts 343

Having students compose or speak ers about the specific vocabulary associated
from an organizer with the target curricular area and each spe-
Composing or speaking from an organizer cialty topic within that area (Kerrin, 1996).
such as a Venn diagram or tree diagram is sim- In this way, teachers and SLPs can collabo-
ilar to composing from an outline but with ratively determine possible support and les-
relationships that may be easier to visualize. son adaptations that will make lesson content
Piccolo (1987, p. 841) suggested the follow- more accessible for students with language
ing sequence: disabilities.
Define and label the structure
(teacher/SLP) Classifying and selecting words
Examine model paragraphs and graphic
organizers (student and teacher/SLP) When teaching vocabulary to support com-
Model composition of an original para- prehension, teachers and SLPs must first de-
graph that follows a graphic organizer cide which words to teach, which to merely
(teacher/SLP) introduce, and which to let pass bymerely
Compose an original organizer and para- reading the phrase or clause furnished by the
graph (student) authorfor the sake of allowing the reader
Read expository texts to find patterns to follow the general flow. Beck, McKeown,
(student) and Kucan (2002) have suggested that words
Although students with language disabil- can be viewed as 3 tiers. Tier 1 words are
ities may initially have difficulty creating those that children likely learn during their
graphic organizers, repeated practice with daily living and interactions with language;
scaffolding from an SLP may help them de- these do not need to be taught. Tier 2 words,
velop this important visualization skill. As those that are likely to be unfamiliar to stu-
students become more skilled in identifying dents but would be useful for them to know
text structures and mapping information in in order to use language and interpret infor-
graphic organizers, they may also benefit from mation successfully, should be the focus of
exploring the creation of well-structured texts most vocabulary instruction. Tier 3 words,
that effectively communicate their content which are the specific, technical words, may
knowledge (Hall et al., 2007). be introduced as necessary for comprehen-
sion but do not need to be central to vocab-
ulary instruction. To prepare for vocabulary
LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTIC instruction, teachers must be able to identify
CONVENTIONS Tier 2 and 3 words and then plan instruction
accordingly.
Just as the organizational structures of ex- Using the tier model to select vocabulary
pository texts are different from those of is particularly important when dealing with
narrative texts, the language in which they expository texts because of the unique dif-
are written, along with linguistic challenges ficulties associated with content area vocab-
and conventions, are different. Children often ulary. For example, the childrens exposi-
need additional support when dealing with tory text Caves (Kramer, 1995) includes the
the language of expository writing. Tier 2 words erupt, expedition, ledge, and
cavern. In Caves, Tier 3 words might in-
clude spelunker, limestone, stalagmite, and
New content words speleothems. By placing appropriate empha-
The vocabulary of informational texts can sis on learning Tier 2 words, teachers and
be much more demanding than word use in SLPs can help build childrens vocabulary and
narrative texts. As they prepare for teaching conceptual knowledge in meaningful ways
expository texts, SLPs can consult with teach- as these words are defined, discussed, and

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344 TOPICS IN LANGUAGE DISORDERS/OCTOBERDECEMBER 2010

explicitly taught in connection with other Structure and connection words


words related to the specific content area. Most educators would agree that the
SLPs will likely need to reinforce and practice type of clear, consistent text structure that
the new words during follow-up small group makes text easily comprehensible is not often
and individual instruction. found in expository trade books or textbooks
(Chambliss & Calfee, 1989). In identifying the
Providing adequate and interesting organization of a text in order to comprehend
experiences it, the reader must be able to use many differ-
ent strategies, including organizational sig-
Beck et al. (2002) recommended that vo- nals, which are the information or words and
cabulary instruction should be frequent, phrases in the text that do not add new con-
rich, and extended.They noted that students tent, but emphasize content topics and high-
must encounter a word 810 times in mean- light text organization or structure (Lorch &
ingful contexts in order to be able to use Lorch, 1995; Meyer, 1975).
it effectively. For example, interaction with
some of the cave words could be provided Using structural clue words
by discussing pictures or video representa-
tions of various types of caves and cave for- Students need to learn to use clue words
mations; also students who have visited caves to help them identify and highlight the struc-
and caverns could share their own experi- ture of a text. Words such as same, alike,
ences and impressions. Students could draw different, or but in a text identify the structure
various types of formations; if the study is to as compare/contrast. Similarly, words such as
go beyond the one text, the class could con- first, second, then, or finally indicate that the
struct a cave mural to be displayed in the class- text is organized as a sequence. Teachers and
room or the hall. As students interact dur- SLPs also can help students learn to indicate
ing their drawing, the need to use the words text structure by using clue words in their
will arise naturally. Beck et al. also recom- own writing as they make attempts to com-
mended that instruction should include asso- municate about their content learning (Vuke-
ciations and relationships between words, in- lich, Evans, & Albertson, 2003). For example,
cluding synonyms, antonyms, related words, a third-grade teacher might have groups of 10
and, when appropriate, alternate meanings students collaboratively write a report on a se-
and relevant derivations. Because studies have lected animal. The children are given differ-
shown that students with language impair- ent informational texts and asked to read to
ments tend to have difficulty with semantic answer three questions the group has agreed
relationships (Sheng & McGregor, 2010), SLPs to ask. When the students try to dictate their
could create for their small groups some op- report, a hodgepodge generally results, and
portunities for supportive, scaffolded prac- the teacher leads the children in grouping the
tice with these vocabulary aspects, and pre- facts (into a structure) and in polishing the
pare the students to use the words in text style. During this process, clue words are de-
discussions. liberately integrated to make the relationships
Beck et al. (2002) also advised that students among the groupings clear and to relate the
should be given opportunities to make ex- facts within the groups so that they will read
tended application of the words in multiple smoothly rather than being disconnected.
settings both in and outside of the classroom.
SLPs could consult with classroom teachers as Highlighting and connecting sentences
they plan follow-up extension activities that Reading text aloud can help student be-
provide opportunities for students to apply come aware of the rhythm and flow of
their new vocabulary knowledge in interest- language. Subsequently, examining text on
ing and imaginative ways. chart paper, transparencies, or computer

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Learning From Expository Texts 345

projection enables instructor and students to tions, text boxes, or graphicsassuming that
see how the effects are created. things that are not in the main text are not
When reading aloud, the teacher or SLP importantthey may miss meaningful infor-
can use verbal techniques in helping chil- mation. Or if they do not realize that they
dren process and recognize expository lan- can use headings and subheadings to activate
guage devices. For example, the oral reader prior knowledge or anticipate what the next
can expressively emphasize connectors and paragraph or section will be about, reading
function words and phrases Some caves are will be more tedious, and comprehension and
small, and others are big. Some are huge. retention may be reduced.
(Gibbons, 1993, n.p.). Similarly, words such as Explicitly teaching children to use text fea-
begin, then, keeps, many years go by, and fi- tures to their advantage has been shown to im-
nally can be stressed to demonstrate how the prove their comprehension (Lorch & Lorch,
reader is guided through a sequence and help 1995; Lorch, Lorch, & Inman, 1993; Meyer et
the children understand how the relationship al., 1980; Meyer & Poon, 2001; Millis & Just,
among the ideas is communicated in the text. 1994). Thus teachers and SLPs need to show
A teacher or SLP also may choose to sub- children how to use some of the characteris-
stitute a simpler cohesive device for a more tic features of informational texts to facilitate
complex one: for example, by using reitera- comprehension and expand content learning.
tion instead of lexical substitution or pronom- Young readers often miss picture captions or
inalization. Instructors may reinstate subjects ignore text boxes that are not in the flow of
or make other substitutions for pronouns: their traditional left to right, top to bottom
Drops fall to the floor of the cave. . . . These reading. Sometimes they are confused about
drops [substituted for they] build stone ici- the sequence in which they should read text
cles (Gibbons, 1993, n.p.). boxes and other ancillary text. Teachers and
SLPs can teach children to use these aids both
in previewing and while reading an exposi-
NAVIGATING AND GATHERING
tory text (Gunning, 2000). Such matters may
INFORMATION
be presented to the full class in large group
format, with SLPs providing alternative or sup-
Students need to understand how to relate
plemental small group instruction and prac-
organization and vocabulary to understand
tice for students who are less proficient. In-
content. Interactive with teaching these skills,
structors can teach children to navigate their
teachers and SLPs need to help children use
way through the unique features of informa-
text features that help them discern and un-
tional texts by (a) explaining the purpose of
derstand these factors and text tools to easily
the features (e.g., bold words, captions, text
locate the information they need.
boxes), (b) teaching children to understand
why headings/subheadings are created and
External text structures: formats how to use them, and (c) providing children
and visuals with the necessary skills to read graphics and
Expository texts usually include external other texts that are presented in a nontradi-
text structuresways in which the informa- tional format.
tion is formatted on a page that can guide read-
ers in accessing and processing it (e.g., head- Text Boxes and Sidebars
ings, subheadings, graphics, bolded words) Text boxes and other visual asides are be-
(see Gunning, 2000). If these formats, some- coming more common in childrens books,
times referred to as text features, are unfa- as readers of all ages become accustomed to
miliar, they can be distracting and, in these such features on websites. Gunning (2000)
instances, may even decrease comprehen- suggested that teachers model use of these
sion. For example, if children skip over cap- aids by using think-aloud: for example, by

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346 TOPICS IN LANGUAGE DISORDERS/OCTOBERDECEMBER 2010

saying, I dont get this. Ill take a look at this tional texts. Children are naturally drawn to
[text box] (p. 309). graphics, but they need to be taught how to
use them (Graves et al., 2001) to provide ad-
Bolding ditional information to supplement and ex-
Some authors use bolding to make impor- tend what they read in the written text. For
tant words stand out. Children need to real- example, the second text page of Hurricane
ize that if certain words are important enough Katrina (Ouellette, 2008) includes a simple
that the author bolded them, they are impor- two-column table showing the wind speeds
tant enough that readers should pay careful of hurricanes of Categories 15. This is placed
attention to them. Bolding is an intensifier. It opposite an excerpt from a news story about
is often used to indicate titles and subtitles, Katrina at the Category 3 stage. Because the
and it can be used to intensify other signifi- text later takes readers through Katrina at Cat-
cant words or phrases as well. egory 5, this graphic helps readers to predict
Conducting a bold word search before how the storm is going to grow, and it is easy
reading an expository text is like using a pic- to come back to if students want to refer to it
ture walk for a narrative. The teacher or SLP again later.
might ask children to turn through the pages Diagrams and flow charts can help stu-
of the book (or section of the book) and dents understand information and relation-
identify all of the bold words, with the in- ships that are difficult to visualize. For exam-
structor compiling a list. In addition to high- ple in Weather, by Seymour Simon (1993),
lighting key vocabulary words, this process there is an explanation of why the earth is
can assist children in activating prior knowl- not evenly warmed by the sun. The relation-
edge and anticipating the main concepts ship of the equator and the poles is explained
ahead. Once the list is complete, the students briefly, and a diagram is shown with arrows
discuss the words, and the teacher provides illustrating the direction from which the suns
opportunities for them to make connections rays strike these areas of the earth. Differences
and notice meaningful relationships among in impact are made both clear and easy to
the words. remember.
Maps are helpful as well, particularly where
Headings and subheadings perspective is concerned. For example, on
If the headings and subheadings of an page 14 of Caves author Stephen Kramer has
informational text have been carefully con- included a map of the world showing the lime-
structed, they provide an outline of the text stone regions, in which limestone caves are
or unit of text (such as a chapter). By scan- likely to be located. For children who might
ning them, students should be able to dis- have heard only about American caves and
cern the structure, develop expectations for caverns, the prevalence of caves in Europe,
the kind of information that will be included Asia, and Africa changes that perspective con-
in each section, and note how the support- siderably. Children need to be taught where
ing information lines up behind each major to find the legend accompanying a map and
idea. A teacher can scaffold comprehension, how to use the information in it (Graves et al.,
by preparing a simple study guide that lists 2001).
headings and subheadings and leaves space Such graphics as a table or matrix can com-
beneath each for students to make a note of municate a great deal of information in a
what is in the section (Graves et al., 2001). small amount of space. For example, a sim-
ple matrix can provide information about five
Graphics different animals: what they are hunted for
Teachers and SLPs can explicitly teach chil- and how that material is used. If written
dren to read the graphics found in informa- in paragraph form, this information would

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Learning From Expository Texts 347

require at least 23 paragraphs. Children CONCLUSION


should be taught how to read a variety of com-
mon graphics (e.g., matrix, map, bar graph, The primary purposes of expository texts
and captions) and how to create their own are communicating information and teaching
graphics for reports or other informational concepts (Weaver & Kintsch, 1996). If stu-
writing. dents are to access this information, teachers
and SLPs need to teach specific comprehen-
Text tools sion skills for expository materials.
Because these skills can be particularly dif-
Text tools can be used by readers to lo-
ficult for children with language disabilities,
cate information. They include the table of
deficits, and delays, SLPs and teachers need
contents, glossary, and index. Although they
to collaborate in providing appropriate lev-
do not contribute directly to the comprehen-
els of full-group instruction, supplementary
sion process, such tools help readers deter-
instruction, individualized support, personal-
mine whether a book will provide them with
ized scaffolding, and purposeful practice to al-
the information they are looking for, give def-
low all children in the classroom to learn and
initions of complex words, and function as a
participate. With their common goals and dif-
guide for locating information. For example,
ferentiated expertise, they can work collabo-
in Hurricane Katrina, Ouellette (2008) deals
ratively to plan and deliver appropriate high-
with advanced concepts and uses some ad-
quality instruction on the necessary variety of
vanced vocabulary, especially with aspects re-
levels.
lated to geography and meteorology. Most of
This article has considered these challenges
the words are given simple, contextual defini-
and suggested ways of handling them in el-
tions in the text. There is a glossary with child-
ementary classrooms that include students
friendly definitions at the back of the book,
both with and without language difficulties.
but it does not contribute directly to com-
Despite differences in backgrounds, experi-
prehension of the running text. Additionally,
ences, and competency, students can learn to
an index includes an extensive listing of top-
comprehend expository texts if teachers and
ics, persons, places, phenomena etc. that can
SLPs will work collaboratively to enable them
help students zero in on something they want
to do so.
to find out about.

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