Sequence Text Structure – Teaching Chronology

Sequence text structure puts events in time order. Wondering how to teach kids to identify a chronology, as well as to write with this format? In addition to the arrangement of ideas, they need to know about transition terms.

Sequence, or Chronology, Informational Text Structure

Ms. Sneed Teaches Sequence Text Structure

Our favorite fourth grade teacher sat at the side table with her teaching partner. Deep in thought, she tapped her pencil on the table. “This year,” she said, “I want to be more deliberate about teaching informational text structure.”

Mr. Frank wrinkled his brow. “In what way?”

“Sure, we teach our students how to recognize each. But I’d like them to make the connection between reading and writing with each format:

“Okay. Then let’s start with just one, chronology. We can discuss how we’ll address this text structure in our ELA block – and maybe in other subject areas too.”

Reading Sequence Text Structure

Without missing a beat, Ms. Sneed opened her laptop. Quickly, she found their informational text structures slideshow. “When we teach chronology,” she said, “we ask kids to look for details presented in time order, or a sequence. Furthermore, we show them that events can be placed along a timeline.

“Next, we view and read a sample paragraph. Then comes the cool part.”

She clicked to reveal a mostly blank slide. “As I click through this, parts of the paragraph are revealed. First, kids see the topic sentence above in blue. Then each supporting detail is revealed along a timeline. Finally, circles appear on each detail to emphasize the role of transition terms.”

“I love this,” said Mr. Frank. “Clear, simple – and colorful!”

When teaching the sequence text structure (chronology), begin with a visual, example, and explanation of transition terms.
Are you feeling “pinspired”? Feel free to pin images from this post.

Looking for Transition Terms

“This year, I’d like to spend more time on transitions,” Ms. Sneed said. “Sure, kids should look for dates or times with the sequence text structure. But I think they should also understand about the adverbs.”

As she spoke, the teacher picked up her pencil and jotted down a list:

  • first, second, third
  • then
  • next
  • meanwhile
  • while
  • soon
  • afterward
  • suddenly
  • finally

“Ah, I see,” said Mr. Frank. “But what about prepositional phrases like in the meantime?”

His co-teacher grinned. “Nothing like reinforcing parts of speech during an informational text lesson. In my mind, I’m envisioning kids generating their own list.”

“Yeah, and we can write the linking words on a big sheet of paper. What a great anchor chart!”

How can kids recognize a chronology? First, look for time order. Second, identify transition terms.

Using a Simple Organizer

Once again, Ms. Sneed clicked around on her laptop. “As I looked through our informational text structures bundle, I realized that it included a set of templates. Here’s the one for a chronology.”

After studying it for a minute, Mr. Frank responded. “Hmm, I can see using this for reading or writing. Either way, kids would jot the events on the flowchart.”

“Right! What a great way to make the reading-writing connection!”

When kids read or write nonfiction, have them make notes on this chronology graphic organizer. It organizes sequence texts in a flow chart.

Writing Paragraphs with Sequence Text Structure

“What topics should we use for writing with the sequence text structure?” asked Mr. Frank.

“Actually, I’ve been thinking about this.”

Once again, Ms. Sneed returned to her laptop. In just a few seconds, she pulled up a file.

“Remember this? Kids write how-to paragraphs on how to build a snowman.”

Mr. Frank chuckled. “Of course I remember. What fun! And why didn’t I think of how-to writing? It’s perfect for chronologies.”

“This anchor chart illustrates paragraph structure:

  1. Introduce the topic. (In other words, write a topic sentence.)
  2. Explain the step-by-step process in logical order.
  3. Wrap it up with a conclusion.”
Wondering what type of prompt to use for writing with the sequence text structure? Any how-to topic will work. For example, have kids write about building a snowman.

Improving Writing

Ms. Sneed scrolled to the next page. “And this one shows kids how to improve their writing:

  • Use a hook at the beginning to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Order steps and make sure sentences flow well.
  • Use linking words to move your audience through the text.
  • Carefully choose words. Use specific nouns and active verbs.
  • Begin each sentence differently.
  • Match your conclusion with your hook.”

Her teaching partner nodded. “Perfect. In addition to practicing the sequence text structure, our students will also work on important writing processes.”

Once kids have written a paragraph, it's time to revise. When you use these strategies, you'll see improvement!

Enjoy Teaching

Ms. Sneed sat back in her chair with a satisfied sigh. “I love it when a plan comes together. However, it’s not winter yet. Maybe we should have our kids tell how to carve a pumpkin.”

“Great idea. First, we’ll teach them how to identify sequence text structure. Second, they can organize ideas from reading on a flow chart. And finally, they can write! I love integrating nonfiction with other subject areas.”

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