An easy way to teach students text features is to use a text feature walk, according to ReadingRockets.org. This technique is easiest after students have learned and practiced all of the text features many times as a group.
There are 12 main text features with which students must be familiar. Not all features are in every text. However, all texts have a title, so it is easiest to start with that feature. Look at the titles of several age-appropriate books. Ask students to identify what they think the text is going to be about, based on just that information.
When looking at a chapter book or textbook, have students look at the table of contents next. This not only tells students where to look next, but it also gives clues as to what content is in the book. The index is helpful to let students know where to find a particular word or idea. Furthermore, the glossary gives definitions of certain words. Have students look at headings and subheadings to predict what these smaller sections are about.
Other features are more visual, such as maps, photos with captions, inset pictures, detailed diagrams, and charts and graphs. All of these show the students extra information that ties into the actual content of the text. Cutaways and cross sections are parts of some diagrams that allow a reader to look inside the layers of an object. Additionally, sidebars are set apart from the main text, while giving additional information as well.
The text feature walk allows students to go through a text and discuss what they are seeing and predicting. Next, move this idea to smaller groups. Eventually, students complete these walks themselves with the text features they have been studying.