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  • Writer's pictureMegan Mariano

Text Structure Explanatory Writing: Creating a Dodecahedron




Text structure is one of those skills we teach in all grade levels of English Language Arts. There are tons of ways to teach it and most of the time, we teach it in the context of reading. However, I think another great way to teach it is through writing. Read on to find out more!


What is text structure?

Text structure is the way authors organize information in text. This is represented in non-fiction and is essential in reading comprehension skills.

Here are the five types of text structure:

  1. Compare/Contrast

  2. Problem/Solution

  3. Cause/Effect

  4. Sequence/Chronological

  5. Descriptive


Most of the time we spend time trying to find these structures within texts using key words for each type. Students will often use graphic organizers to focus on each one within a read text. I do this with my students during my non-fiction unit.


Writing use Text Structure

By middle school, identifying text structure should be pretty straightforward, which is why I've chosen to elevate this skill to have them write using specific text structure.


Writing with text structure in mind is perfect to hit those standards about explanatory writing. Even better, when you write ABOUT reading you are truly hitting all those important ELA skills!

What I do exactly:

My 6th graders do a massive research unit before the project I will describe here. During that unit, students chose from a list of topics to research. I am sure to group students into similar topics with the specific reason being that they can do THIS project later. During the research aspect of the unit it's independent. They are researching within books, focusing on non-fiction skills.



After doing all of their research, students then prepare for a research essay. The goal for this essay to formulate an opinion about their topic. This is also an independent assignment.


The dodecahedron:

I remember seeing these projects back in the day when I used to student teach. I honestly, don't recall what they were used for back then, but upon Googling, I've noticed a lot teachers use them to create Bloom balls. Essentially, they use each piece as a part of Bloom's taxonomy. Or, they have the students do each piece as part of a book report.


I didn't want this to just be an "all about [topic]". In the past, I had them create eBooks, so I wanted to take that concept and put it into this hands-on project.


What's great about this is that it's great for group projects since there are 12 pieces total.


The process:

  1. Students receive a packet. Each student gets their own packet.

  2. They then work in their groups to come up with a list of possible sub-topics within their overarching topic. For example, my topic was fast food...some topics I listed you will see below.

  3. After this list, they divide up the topics under specific text structures. Each topic is a piece of the dodecahedron and each student gets a few pieces.

  4. You could also do a few lessons on supporting writing with expert opinions, statistics, etc. I incorporate this more in essay writing.

  5. Next up is their rough drafting. They use the sentence frames provided to help create a paragraph or two about their topic. Students are also encouraged to use text structure key words.

  6. Another aspect of this is to incorporate text features; students use charts and diagrams to further explain their topic.

  7. One they've finished their drafting, they write everything out on each piece of the dodecahedron, cut it out, and put it all together!

My sample in the packet students receive.


Bottom Line:

If you're looking for a way to change up your writing units, this is a great project to do. It took my students about a week, but I didn't take all of class time for it. They have an advisory class to catch up on missed work and did it then. It could also be an option if you teach science or social studies to incorporate writing!


I am a big techy, so I do a LOT of work on the computers. I wanted to do something OFF the screens for a bit.


You can get the entire project here!



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1 Comment


Olivia Tomas
Olivia Tomas
Jun 18

An essay is a structured piece of writing that delves into a specific topic, presenting the author's viewpoint. It usually comprises three main sections: an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction sets the stage with a thesis statement, outlining the main argument or focus. Body paragraphs provide detailed need help writing a term paper support, including evidence and examples, to reinforce the thesis. The conclusion summarizes the key points and restates the thesis in light of the evidence discussed. Essays can be analytical, descriptive, or persuasive, and they play a crucial role in education by helping students develop critical thinking, research, and writing skills.

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