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Lesson Plan

Exploring How Section Headings Support Understanding of Expository Texts

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Cynthia A. Lassonde

Schoharie, New York


International Literacy Association



From Theory to Practice



Writers use section headings for a variety of reasons: to help readers figure out what to expect in an upcoming section, to hint at a main idea, or to organize the article's idea. Understanding section headings can help students become strategic content-area readers. In this lesson, students preview an article and are guided to identify the section headings in the article. As a class, students read the article and then discuss why writers might include section headings in a text. In subsequent sessions, students are given articles with the section headings removed and act as detectives to fill in the missing section headings. This lesson requires students to work together to explore their understanding of section headings and solve problems presented to them. For extension activities, students can write their own expository text using three to five section headings and apply the strategy to the outline format.

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Short, R.A., Kane, M., & Peeling, T. (2000). Retooling the reading lesson: Matching the right tools to the job. The Reading Teacher, 54, 284295.

  • Using expository texts during guided reading allows students to become aware of the purposes for section headings.

  • Understanding section headings in expository texts helps readers become strategic content-area readers.

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