School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 5

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 2.0 Comprehension of Informational Text

Indicator 3. Develop and apply knowledge of organizational structure of informational text to understand what is read


To show proficiency of the skills stated in this indicator, a reader will show an understanding of the patterns in a text, which are its organizational structures. Using text features will assist a reader in determining the type of organization used. As the complexity of a text increases, a reader will advance from identifying of organizational structures to analyzing how the organizational structure helps create meaning.

The ability to identify and analyze the organization of a text is a necessary step to comprehension of an entire text. To determine the organizational structure of a text, a reader must first identify its subject or topic and survey its print features and graphic aids. There are diverse informational texts---essays, speeches, biographies, autobiographies, newspapers, magazines, and multiple types of real-world texts. The purpose of each of these text types governs its organizational structure. A narrative nonfiction text tells a true story so the organization would be sequential or chronological. An editorial often attempts to convince a reader to believe as the writer does. A standard organization for an editorial is information by degree of importance. Paying attention to how writing is organized offers a reader an efficient way to access information and to see the relationship among the elements of the text.

Knowledge and use of words and phrases commonly used in organizational patterns is essential to determining and analyzing a text structure. In order to do this, a reader must be able to locate within a text the words that signal organizational patterns. When this is accomplished, a reader can explain and analyze the contribution of the organizational plan to understand the meaning of an entire text. For example,

  • Words such as first, second, and third show a chronology.
  • Next, then and finally show a sequential order.
  • Above, beneath, next to, and beside show a spatial order or description.
  • Because and as a result of are words that signal a cause/effect relationship.

The words above indicate a movement in the text that may be a passage of time, a shift from one location to another or a relationship among ideas. Reading critically means constructing meaning from a text and evaluating what that text has to say. A critical reader can locate these transitional devices, combine them with prior knowledge of similar text and determine a purpose for the whole text. Furthermore, a critical reader can determine whether an organizational pattern is the best way to present information in a text. For example, an author may wish to make a point about a selected topic. A critical reader can make a judgment about the choice an author makes in the organization of his/her text.

For more complex texts, a critical reader can determine through knowledge of transitional devices a shift to indicate a change in organizational pattern. An author may introduce an essay with an anecdote organized in a chronological pattern but may then move into a problem solution pattern to continue. A critical reader can note the words that signal a chronological pattern and detect the change to words that signal the problem solution pattern, thereby understanding that the structure of the text has shifted. Since pattern and author's purpose work together, a critical reader may then ascertain dual purposes within a text.

As readers have more experiences with various patterns of text and the words that signal them, readers can use those organizational patterns to locate specific information. A practiced reader will look for a text pattern using those words that signal patterns and indicate shifts in patterns and then use all of these elements to access specific text details that will support an interpretation and evaluation of a text.