The learner will understand text organizers as special conventions in nonfiction books, specifically the table of contents, index, and glossary. Prior to this lesson, you may want to assess whether students have had experience with the conventions covered in Part I.
Reading books for your own pleasure and using books to gain information for research are two different types of reading. When you pick up a fiction book, you are reading for story. If you are enjoying it, you read the book from beginning to end. When you read nonfiction for your own interest you may read from beginning to end, or you may skip around and find the parts of interest. When you are reading for information you may not need to read a whole book. You may be only interested in one specific part of the book.
We are going to examine the features of a well-produced nonfiction book that help a researcher find information. At the end of the lesson you will be able to identify the table of contents, the index and the glossary and how they can lead to faster and more efficient location of information.
Table of Contents
Input and Modeling: Table of Contents
The first feature that is helpful is the table of contents. It is like a menu in a restaurant. It is found in the front of the book. The chapters/topics are organized as they appear with sequential page numbers. Chapters provide the overview or major big ideas in a book. Point out that if a chapter begins on p. 15 and the next chapter begins on p. 30 that the chapter goes from pp. 15-29.
If a book does not have a table of contents it is very difficult to use for research because you cannot look to see if this book has information on the topic of research. Use Table of Contents transparency.
Guided Practice: Table of Contents
Before students open books, ask them to check the spine label of their book. Make sure it is a nonfiction book with a Dewey number on the spine. Talk about what would be different if this were an E or Fiction title.
Ask students to open their books and locate the Table of Contents. Ask them to verify that their book has a table of contents and chapters are listed in order of appearance. Have them report or tell a partner titles of chapters and page numbers.
Input and Modeling: Index
The next convention that can be helpful is the Index. It is located at the back of the book and includes keywords (people, places, things) listed in alphabetical order. The index lists all the page numbers where you can find information on your keyword (topic). Some of these entries will have pages divided by commas and some will have hyphens. The use of a comma indicates that information is on those individual pages. A hyphen between two numbers indicates that the information is on all the pages indicated. For example if it says 4-7, it means that information on that topic is found on pages 4, 5, 6, and 7.
In some indexes you will find key words that are followed by a list of indented sub topics. This can be confusing to read. Sub topics may be in paragraph form or list form.
See and See Also are called cross references and give a reader other places to find information. Sometimes that suggests a keyword you did not think of before.
Using the Index transparency, indicate the keywords and the way the page numbers are listed. Note how illustrations are indicated, the use of italics and bold print, use of See or See also references, and particularly the use of indentation.
Guided Practice: Index
Ask students to locate the index in their book. Have them find examples of use of commas, and hyphens. See if any of their books use bold print for illustrations or headings. Ask if they have See and See also cross-references. Talk about how those lead them in another direction and often help expand the search because there may be key words they had not thought about.
Input and Modeling: Glossary
A glossary is like a mini dictionary at the back of the book. It gives the definition and sometimes the pronunciation for the words that are important to the topic. A reader would be expected to understand this vocabulary. Explain the example using the Glossary Transparency.
Guided Practice: Glossary
Have students examine the glossary in their book and show a partner a word they did not know. They could also write a sentence using a word new to them.
This page was last updated on September 14, 2005.