Expository Text Features

English Language Arts, Grade 8

Nonfiction text includes features to help the reader. Illustrations help the reader to envision what is written in the text. A caption is a pithy description for the illustration. An asterisk after a word tells the reader to look to the bottom of the page for an explanatory footnote. A sidebar is information that is relevant to the topic but is set aside in its own box. Generally a sidebar is interesting data that couldn’t be worked into the body of the text. As you read the passage below, note the two illustrations, two captions, the explanatory footnote, and the sidebar. James Garfield, 20th President of the United States President James Garfield had the second shortest presidency in U.S. history. He served just 199 days in 1881. Even so, during that time, he uncovered corruption in the post office, chose a U.S. Supreme Court judge, and appointed black Americans to important federal positions. Yet his most lasting contribution was the impact he had on civil service. At that time, there were 100,000 federal workers; they were civil service employees. When a new president came into power, they expected to be fired and replaced by people of the new leader's choosing. Garfield refused to do this. He wanted the best candidates to fill the civil service jobs and to have job security. His stance made Charles J. Guiteau furious. He had worked on Garfield’s political campaign and expected to be rewarded with a civil service position. An enraged Guiteau shot Garfield on July 2, 1881. When the doctors could not find the bullet in his body, he developed septicemia* and died 10 weeks later. Public support for Garfield’s civil service reform soared after his death. In 1883 a new law established civil service exams to ensure that civil servants demonstrated competency. The law also forbid federal employees from being fired by elected officials for political purposes. *blood poisoning By the Numbers: U.S. Civil Service By 2011, the Federal Government employed approximately 2.79 million civil servants. The Federal Government is the largest employer in the U.S. economy. James Garfield Charles J. Guiteau Text Features Visit www.newpathlearning.com for Online Learning Resources. © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. 92-4086
Label each text feature in this nonfiction article. Teenage Whaler In 1856, when Daniel Weston Hall was 15 years old, he left New England on the whaling ship Condor . Although he signed on for a three-year voyage, he did not return home for nearly five years. It took 10 months at sea before the ship caught its first whale off the coast of Siberia in the Arctic Ocean. By then Captain Samuel Whiteside was cantakerous.* The longer it took to find whales, the less money he would earn. He seized Daniel and without any warning, he beat him! Daniel and Elias, another teenager, were terrified of the captain. Once when the boys were play fighting, the captain struck their bare backs with a whip called a cat of nine tails. This cruel punishment was usually only used when a crewmember did something really awful. Another time Whiteside broke Daniel’s ribs with an oak stick. Daniel was convinced that the captain would kill him. So in October 1858, the boys sneaked away from a camp on the Siberian coast and walked for days in the bone-chilling cold to reach the icy colony of Oudskoi. On their way, two grizzly bears attacked them. They shot the bears. At Oudskoi, the people took in Elias but refused to take care of Daniel! They said he would die from the beating he had received and did not want to waste food on him. They left Daniel alone in a little hut. Fortunately a Native American medicine man visited Daniel. He cut open the boy's wounds and drained the pus. He removed the pieces of bone from Daniel’s broken ribs. He bandaged him. Once Daniel healed, he had to obtain his own food. He went hunting with his gun. Suddenly, 50 wolves surrounded him! He climbed a tree, but the wolves stayed at the base of the tree. Two long, cold days passed. Then a bear came along. When the wolves attacked the bear, Daniel climbed down and fled. In June 1859, Daniel and Elias walked east to the sea, hoping to find work on a ship headed for America. When they reached the coast, they found that Daniel’s father had sent men to rescue him. When Daniel arrived home, he published his story. *always in a bad mood Why Whaling? In the 1800s, men went to sea to harvest whales for their thick layer of fat called blub- ber. It was used as oil for lamps. Whalebone was used to manufac- ture things, too. It was as common then as plastic is now. Want to Know More? Read Daniel’s book, Arctic Rovings , online. It is available from Google Books. Artic Ravings frontispiece, 1861 Text Features Visit www.newpathlearning.com for Online Learning Resources. © Copyright NewPath Learning. All Rights Reserved. 92-4086