Here’s my road to teaching structure in my English classroom:
First 10 years: Didn't know ‘structure’ was a thing I should be teaching. (It was a subconscious act in my own writing.)
Next 5 years: Saw it in the curriculum. Ignored it. (It's probably nothing. There's structure, and there's language. Surely language is the important thing - I'll stick to that, thanks!)
Next 5 years: Guilt. (I think I should be doing something about this but what the heck is structure anyway? I think I'm the only one who doesn't know ... but I think I'm probably doing it accidentally ...right? OMG.)
The last 5 years: Actively thought about it, played with working out what structure is and how to fit it into my programme…but for much of that time I was out of the classroom, so I had time to think. LOL. Cry.
If you’re still in camp "Structure?! Oh, I'll teach letter-writing because letters have a clear structure but OMG do we even write letters anymore?" you’re not alone!
Let’s get this party…structured with a basic overview you can use as your ‘go-to’. So, structure is:
How something is narrated:
Third person limited – telling the story of one of the characters.
Third person objective – telling the story of all the characters but staying out of their heads.
Third person omniscient – AKA eye of God – sees all, knows all (in the characters’ heads).
Alternating/change in narrator.
The way people's words are woven into the text:
Semi-colons (Remember the rule: have a complete sentence either side.)
Brackets - round or square (they have different purposes)
Syntax – the arrangement of words in a sentence. For example:
The waka moved swiftly through the water at dawn.
At dawn, the waka moved swiftly through the water.
Interesting sentence beginnings. For example, beginning with:
An adverb – Swiftly, the waka moved…
A preposition – At dawn, the waka moved…
A present participle (AKA a verb in the present tense) – Paddling like mad, Sid…
A word ending in …ed – Exhausted, Sid…
The wee words – With… If… As…
Sentence structures. For example:
Your basic simple, compound and complex structures – teach those first for solid grammar. Tip: begin with what a complete sentence needs (a subject and a verb), then extend to object, then teach what a clause (clauses contain a verb) and a phrase is (phrases are verb 'phree'!).
Minor sentences – Nah.
Parallel structures – He waits; he shivers.
Steam of consciousness – long, rambling things that go on for days without a full stop (like, on purpose - LOL).
Heavy in the adjectival phrase – This device is thin, elegant and sure to impress.
How deeper meanings are shown - Eg:
Extended metaphor (I love Langston Hughes poem, “Mother to Son” for teaching this.)
Arrangement (for want of a better word) – This includes:
Narrative structure – this is about IDEAS. Eg:
The structure of an essay paragraph with point, explanation, example, critical thinking.
The structure of a story – the tragedy, the hero’s journey, the twist at the end, beginning with a crisis then multiple crises from there, the basic exposition, middle, satisfactory end, flashback, foreshadowing…
Actual layout on the page – this is about LOOKS (AKA format). Eg:
The layout of a letter with address at the top, date, salutation, body, complementary close etc.
The layout of a script with speakers down the side, stage directions in square brackets/italics etc.
A poem with words written in the shape of a snail.
There you go – structure in a nutshell! (Tip: I laminate teaching checklists – eg: key steps in reading – and leave them on my desk to refer to. Anything to avoid more thinking, remembering, or reinventing of the wheel!)
For a free printable download of this overview, click here.
Also available in my TPT store here.
This says it's for NCEA 1.3 Writing, but in truth it could be used for Years 10-13!
Also available in my TPT store here.