Graphic Organizer

Nonfiction Pyramid

3 - 8
Printout Type
Graphic Organizer

About this printout

After students read an article or other work of nonfiction, they can use the Nonfiction Pyramid to reflect on key ideas and details in the text.

This printout has been reproduced from the following book: Ellery, V., & Rosenboom, J.L. (2011). Sustaining strategic readers: Techniques for supporting content literacy in grades 6-12. Newark, DE: International Reading Asssociation.

Teaching with this printout

Be sure students are familiar with the key nonfiction concepts implied by the Nonfiction Pyramid—main idea, supporting details, author’s purpose, and reader’s aids.  Then read a short article or book chapter together and use the Nonfiction Pyramid to reinforce those concepts and model how the printout helps you think of all the parts of the text and put them together .

  • The first line will contain one major idea of the article or text.
  • The second ask students to describe a supporting detail related to that first main idea.
  • On the third line, students use three words to offer another main idea.
  • On the fourth line, students develop that main idea with four supporting details.
  • Students then use five words to express the author’s purpose.
  • On the sixth line, students share six important vocabulary words important to the topic.
  • On next line, students share seven words related to important reader’s aids, such as headings, images, captions, charts, and graphs.

Students can use their pyramids to provide informal oral summaries of what they’ve read or as starting points for more extensive writing.


More ideas to try

  • Once students understand how the Nonfiction Pyramid helps them reflect on key elements of an article or chapter, invite them to use the structure to plan writing of their own.
  • After using the Nonfiction Pyramid a few times, ask students to consider what elements are missing from the Pyramid that they might like to add.  Where would they go?

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