A photograph of two young men looking at magazines in a library.

Source: Read a Magazine @ The Unquiet Library, The Unquiet Library, Flickr

Organizational patterns provide clues to help you better understand what you’re reading. If a written work is organized in sequential order, you’ll look for steps. If the work has a comparison/contrast pattern, you’ll look for similarities and differences. If the work has a cause and effect pattern, you’ll look for what happened (effects) and what caused it.

What will you look for if you decide the organizational pattern of a text is problem and solution?

First, you’d look for the problem. After you have located the problem, you could read the rest of the text to see what solution the author suggests. As you read the following excerpt, think about the problem posed and the solution suggested.

Problem and solution:

In this excerpt, click on the text in bold to reveal think-alouds. Words and phrases highlighted in green are related to the problem-and-solution organizational pattern.

icon for an interactive exercise

Practice the think-aloud reading strategy as you read the following excerpt that uses a proposition-and-support pattern of organization.

Proposition and support:

As you read, think about how the organizational pattern could help you summarize the text. If you click on the highlighted text, you will find think-alouds that model how you might summarize the passage.

A photograph of an adult Mongoose. It is a profile of the animal’s head.

Source: Yellow mongoose, LEOL30, Flickr

icon for an interactive exercise

After you have worked through the passage with the organizational pattern in mind, you can summarize the main idea of the passage. In this case, you need to mention the proposition and the two examples that support it. Look at the model summary below. Can you identify the proposition and the examples?

The mongoose is not alone in developing a resistance to the bite of venomous snakes. Some eels can resist the immobilizing venom of the banded sea krait (a sea snake), and California ground squirrels suffer only a mild reaction to the tissue-destroying venom of Pacific rattlesnakes.

Recognizing the organizational pattern makes it easy to see what has to be included in a summary. Depending on the length of your summary, you may want to also include some of the important details.