Discourse Structures: Part 1

I want to talk to you about discourse structures. You may think, discourse structures? Why do I need to know about discourse structures? I just want to read to my child. There are reasons. So here is the purpose for knowing about discourse structures.

One of reasons is that research has shown that knowledge of the structure of text improves comprehension. Children are better able to understand and to remember ideas from the text. That includes both main ideas and details.

Knowledge of the text structure, or discourse structure, improves their ability to learn, to acquire information. It also has shown to improve test scores when they take standardized tests or reading tests. These are reasons to know about the structure of text.

Good readers naturally learn discourse structures, understand them, and comprehend them. But all children can be taught the structure of text. It is something that you can do simply.

I want you to have this in your background knowledge when you are sharing books with a child. In the appendix is a structured overview. It is a structured overview, because the ideas are in a hierarchy. You will notice that discourse is oral and written. In reading we are using written discourse.

Discourse can be divided into poetry and prose. Poetry is fun. We sense the beauty of language when we read poetry.

I want to share a couple of my favorite poems. One of them is called, The Swing, by Robert Lewis Stevenson.

How do you like to go up in a swing? Up in the air so blue. Oh, I do think it is the pleasantest thing ever a child can do.

Up in the air and over the wall ‘til I can see so wide. Rivers and trees and cattle and all over the countryside.

‘til I look down on the garden green. Down on the roofs so brown. Up in the air I go flying again. Up in the air and down.

You get the sense of freedom. It’s emotion. Poetry allows our minds to fill our different emotions.

Another poem I really like, and I use this one with older children, is The Road Not Taken.

Two road diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both. It’s something we all face, isn’t it?

Of course, with poetry, there is Mother Goose. Mother Goose is great for rhymes and rhythm. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. These poems, or nursery rhymes are part of our culture. They are part of the language we learn when we are growing up.

You can get different anthologies of poems. Fun silly poems. I have a book I have used so much that the pages are falling out. It includes The Five Enormous Dinosaurs.

Five enormous dinosaurs letting out a roar. One went away and then there were four.

Four enormous dinosaurs munching on a tree. One went away and then there were three.

You will notice that poems can contain the same the same language patterns that are in prose.

Of course, Psalms.The Twenty-third Psalmwas one I memorized when I was a young child. The Lord is my shepherd. The poem is illustrated in the book by Tasha Tudor. You can talk about the pictures and the verses of the Psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. What does that mean?

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. There is a lot of symbolism in poetry so it is wonderful for developing comprehension and language.

Remember, understanding discourse structures helps us comprehend oral and written language.