Teaching Expository Text Organizers

Discussion in 'General Education' started by gakopp, Aug 5, 2007.

  1. gakopp

    gakopp New Member

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    Aug 5, 2007

    I am not a professional educator. But in my work in business communications consulting I am deeply interested in text comprehension, with a foundation of cognitive psychology.

    I recently read The Skills of Document Use by Jean-Francois Rouet (2006). He spends a lot of time explaining "text organizers" as comprehension aids in expository text. One such text organizer is the use of topic titles.

    He classifies tables of contents and indexes as "higher order text organizers," and documents their value in helping the reader build an appropriate mental model (macrostructure, as explained by Kintsch and van Dijk).

    Here's where I get stuck. Rouet claims that readers must be taught to use tables of contents and indexes effectively. I've searched, but I cannot locate any textbooks or other material that could be used as the foundation of a lesson on using tables of contents and indexes. It's been fifty years or so since my primary education, so I don't remember being specifically taught these skills.

    In my search for resources covering the usage of tables and contents and indexes, as close as I've come is textbooks on "content area reading." While these books seem to cover the basics of text organizers (titles, paragraph organization, etc.) they only mention tables of contents and indexes in passing.

    Can anyone suggest how the use of tables of contents and indexes is "taught," and give me a pointer or two to resources (textbooks, etc.) that I might use in the teaching of this skill?
     
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Aug 5, 2007

    I don't use any resources except the actual texts the students use. We use the tables of contents and indexes to find real info.
     
  4. gakopp

    gakopp New Member

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    Aug 5, 2007

    So there's no generally accepted way to teach students how to use tables of contents and indexes? It just "comes naturally?"
     
  5. willsgirl

    willsgirl Comrade

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    Aug 5, 2007

    I don't know if this is what you're asking about, but when I taught reading at the 7th grade level, I used a text that addressed how to specifically read, use, and understand titles, headings, annotations ("text boxes"), tables of contents, indexes, etc. It also had a set of worksheets that accompanied the text helped students learn how to do these things more efficiently using textual examples and applied exercises.

    I was going to give you a bib entry, but I found a web address:

    www.greatsource.com The text is titled Reader's Handbook A student Guide for Reading and Learning

    I know this is just teaching/student stuff and not good ed psych, but it will give you an idea what and why this is actually taught. It's been the same length of time for me as for you since grade school and I don't remember if we were actually taught how to use textual features of any type of text. I don't recall if we were taught any "before, during, and after" reading skills at all. We were just expected to read and understand. Boy, have things changed!

    Hope this helps! I'd be interested in knowing what you find out.
     
  6. gakopp

    gakopp New Member

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    Aug 5, 2007

    Thanks to "Willsgirl" for the pointer! That book sounds promising. I'll get it (them, actually -- I'll check out both the grades 6-8 and 9-12 versions) from Amazon and let you know if I find what I'm looking for. I also found a couple of other texts that I'll evaluate, but I can't determine if they cover "higher order" text organizers (Ruddell, and Vacca & Vacca).
     

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