Using a 2-column chart, students scaffold their thinking and draw conclusions about the author's purpose.
Why is this an important concept?
When students can identify whether an author's purpose for writing a text is to inform, persuade, entertain, or describe, they are better equipped to evaluate its content as they make inferences and draw conclusions.
Up to (3) 50-minute periods
Part I: Learning Activity
1. Before beginning this activity, reproduce the Author's Purpose Chart handout onto a transparency or chart paper and make copies of the chart for each student.
2. Explain to the class that they are going to watch the beginning of a video called "The Animal Shelter." In video segment 1 there are images of dogs barking. No one says anything. Play the video. As students view the segment, ask them to think about the author's purpose for selecting these images and sounds to begin the video.
3. Discuss questions such as the following:
- "How did the images make you feel?"
- "Why do you think the author may have chosen not to use words?"
- "What do you think the author's purpose was for selecting the images and sounds in video segment 1?"
4. Distribute the Author's Purpose Chart and tell students they will use it to help them determine the purpose of the rest of the video. Review the clues and questions on the chart that will help them determine the author's purpose. Is it to entertain, to describe, to inform or to persuade the audience? Tell students that they will watch the next video segment twice, the first time to get a general idea of the segment. They will have a few minutes to write ideas on the chart after watching the video the first time.
5. Play video segment 2, "What Can You Do?" Ask them to think about the author's purpose for this video segment.
6. Model how to complete the chart, thinking aloud as you write answers to a few of questions.
7. Provide a few minutes for students to fill in information they remember from the video segment. Ask students to write their preliminary conclusions about the author's purpose.
8. Tell students they they will watch video segment 2 again. This time, the purpose for viewing is to determine the author's purpose and to take notes on the chart. Was the purpose to entertain, to describe, to inform, or to persuade? Were their initial conclusions correct?
9. Use the Pair-Share-Decide strategy to provide students with an opportunity to discuss with others what they wrote on their charts and to come to a consensus about the purpose of the video.
- Pair up with a partner.
- Share ideas with a partner about the author's purpose for creating the video.
- Decide, in pairs, the purpose for the video, based on the answers to the questions. Students should be able to explain why they decided on a particular purpose.
- Ask students to draw a conclusion about the author's purpose and write in the blank under the chart.
10. Whole Group: As a class, each pair shares their conclusion about the author's purpose and supports it with information from the right column of the chart. As a class, decide the author's purpose. Include support from the right column of the chart.
Note: At any point in the discussion, use the video segments to review pertinent information, to help answer questions, or to settle disagreements about the author's purpose.
11. After the discussion, students turn in their Author's Purpose Charts. To determine which students may need additional instruction, examine students' responses in the "What makes you think that?" column. The information in this column gives a glimpse into students' thinking processes to determine if they are using information from the video to draw conclusions.
For Students Who Need Additional Teacher Guidance
1. Tell students you will pause the video periodically, discuss the ideas in the video, and assist them as they add ideas to their charts.
Pause the video after the segment about the woman's photography business. (You'll see a brown dog and a white dog behind a fence.) The purpose of this segment is to inform. Go through each box in the left column. Place an "X" in the appropriate blank. Then ask students to complete the "What makes you think that" column. When necessary, assist students as they answer these questions.
If students need more guidance determining author's purpose, pause again after the informative segment about the woman who adopted a Jack Russell Terrier from the animal shelter. (At the end of this segment, the woman says she and her husband went to the shelter and adopted a dog.) Ask students to add facts to the right column. Provide guidance when necessary.
2. Before watching the last segment of the video (after the blonde woman says that she adopted a dog from the shelter), tell students that the purpose of the video seems to change toward the end. Ask them to listen for facts and/or opinions that might give clues about the author's perspective. Also, notice that some captions appear on the screen toward the end of the video that add information related to the author's purpose.
Note to the teacher: Predominantly persuasive comments are found toward the end of the video, especially after the blonde woman says she and her husband went to the shelter and got a dog. After watching the entire segment, brainstorm the facts in that portion of the segment. Then brainstorm other ideas presented and identify them as facts or opinions. Revisit this video segment, if necessary, to explain further how the author uses many facts and persuasive comments to create a believable argument to persuade viewers to do their part to protect the animals. Without the last portion of the video, the purpose of the segment is to inform.
Part II: Assessment
1. To assess students' understanding of an author's purpose when reading independently, distribute a copy of th Reading Passages handout and ask students to determine the author's purpose and to explain their answers.
2. You may choose to discuss students' answers in small groups or with the whole class.
3. This assessment may also be included in a student's portfolio.
Note: The purpose of the Jack Russell Terrier passage is to describe the appearance and characteristics of the breed. Because the two purposes are interrelated, students may confuse descriptive and informative purposes.
- The key is that descriptive writing explains specifically how something or someone looks, what it does, what it's used for, etc.
- Informative writing is used to communicate more general information.