Keys to Literacy Newsletter
Message from 
Joan Sedita


Keys to Literacy is almost eight years old! One of my goals when I started this company was to develop professional development programs that address the main components of content literacy: comprehension, vocabulary, and writing. We have accomplished that goal through our
Key Comprehension,
Key Vocabulary, and

Keys to Content Writing programs

As more districts are using multiple Keys to Literacy programs, we have become aware of certain literacy skills that need to be addressed across programs, such as teaching text structure


Knowledge of language and text structures, ranging from the sentence level through broader text types, is a must if students are to develop needed reading and writing skills. However, there are many students who have weak language skills because of a learning disability, English as a second language, or a lack of exposure to rich English language structures prior to starting school.


We emphasize explicit instruction of text structures because it is  fundamental to content literacy, so I hope you will take advantage of the resources in this newsletter.


I'd like to end by making a plug for Literacy Lines, the Keys to Literacy blog that we started last September. If you follow this newsletter and find the resources helpful, you should sign up to follow our blog. 



Joan Sedita

Founding Partner & Program Author

Quick Links
Volume 14
Spring 2015

In this issue, the focus is on 

Teaching Text Structure


Our newsletter provides guidance and resources about literacy instruction in grades K-12. We hope you find the tips helpful.... and feel free to forward this to your friends and colleagues!

Teaching Text Structure

Text structure is the arrangement of ideas and the relationships among them; readers and writers who are familiar with text structure recognize how the information is unfolding. Common Core Reading Standard #5 focuses on teaching text structure: "analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text relate to each other and the whole."


As students advance to middle and high school grades, the text they read and write becomes increasingly varied in style, vocabulary, text structure, purpose, and intended audience.


Authors use structural elements to organize information and ideas and to highlight important parts of the text. Text structures can be used to gain meaning when reading and to convey meaning when writing. Click here for a document that shows the comprehension-writing structure connection. Structural elements can be organized into two categories: text features and text structures. Click here for a handout with details. 


Recognition of specific patterns of organization (e.g., sequence, compare and contrast) also supports comprehension and retention of information. Click here to download paragraph templates that can help students learn how to write using different patterns of organization. 


Although it is often overlooked, the use of transition words and phrases is an important structural element. Transitions make connections among sentences, paragraphs, and larger pieces of text. Transition words and phrases often provide the reader with clues about patterns of text organization. Click here to download a copy of common transition words.

Additional Resources Related to Teaching Text Structure

How to Teach Expository Text Structure to Facilitate Reading Comprehension (Akhondi, Malayeri, & Samad, 2011)


Nonfiction Text Structures (Jen Jonson, YouTube video)


Text Structure Worksheets (E Reading Worksheets)


Patterns of Organization (E Reading Worksheets)


Teaching and Assessing Understanding of Text Structures Across Grades (Karin Hess, Nat'l Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment)


5 Days of Teaching Text Structure to Readers (This Reading Mama blog post) 

Keys to Literacy News

Follow our blog, Literacy Lines! Each week we post pieces

Reading and The Brain
Blog Post

that focus on best instructional practices for teaching reading and writing to students of all ages. Literacy Lines bloggers include Keys to Literacy trainers and guest educators. Topics include new resources, instructional tips, latest research, and stories from the field.


Train-the-Trainer is now available for our Key Comprehension, Key Vocabulary, and Keys to Content Writing. In addition to on-site training delivered by Keys to Literacy trainers, we also offer a train-the-trainer option for education organizations and district that want to use in-house staff to provide training to teachers. Our "Level I" program licenses trainers to deliver PD using a model that combines face-to-face sessions and our online courses. Click here for more information about Level I.

Click here for information about our summer, week-long train-the-trainer sessions.