Lesson: Non-fiction Text Structures: Author's Purpose: Introductory Paragraphs (Lesson 16)

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Lesson Objective

Paragraphs have purposes. Introductory paragraphs catch the reader’s attention.

Lesson Plan

Lesson 16:

Standard: Identify the purpose of common textual features (for example, title, headings, key words, paragraphs, topic sentences, table of contents, indices, glossary,  captions accompanying illustrations or photographs).

Identify topic sentences, supporting details, and elaboration in paragraphs. 

Determine the purpose of individual sentences and paragraphs and how they contribute to the text as a whole. 

Big Idea:  Writers use lots of evidence to support the main idea or theme.  These supporting details fill the text; they are found in every paragraph, all textual features, and all graphic features. 


Teaching Point: Paragraphs have purposes. Introductory paragraphs catch the reader’s attention.



Reading Workshop: Reading binders, pencils, copies of “Poop Power,” “Empty Bellies,” “Fear on the Brain,” “The Life of the Loggerhead,” small post-its

Note: These articles have been used in previous lessons of this unit. Students should have copies in their binders.

Read Aloud: Reader binders, copy of Exploding Ants by Joanne Settel, small post-its


Reading Workshop Lesson:

  • Readers, we have been learning that all authors write in a way that makes their main idea or theme clear to the reader. We have learned six non-fiction text structures that we can use to help us understand the most important parts of anything we read.
  • For the next few weeks, I am going to teach you another important part of text organization – paragraphs. As you know from your own writing, in good writing, every paragraph has one purpose – one topic that it is about.  If a paragraph is trying to have too many purposes – to do too many things – then it will confuse the reader.  Paragraph divisions are there to help the reader, to let the reader know when the author is talking about the same thing and when the author is moving on and introducing a new topic. 
  • Today, we are going to learn that some paragraphs are meant to catch the reader’s attention – to make them more interested in the text. These paragraphs are usually found in the introduction, or beginning, of the text. We are going to read the beginning paragraphs of some of the texts we’ve read previously this year, and we are going to notice when the purpose of the paragraph is to catch the reader’s attention or “hook” the reader.   
  • Open your binder to your “Non-Fiction” tab and find the non-fiction text that we read most recently, “Poop Power.” Let’s read and see if we notice any paragraphs that are meant to catch the reader’s attention. [Stop at the end of the first paragraph.] The author definitely wants to hook the reader because she starts by talking about cow gas. I know that if I was reading an article where the first thing the author mentions is cow gas, I would want to know more. I’m going to annotate the purpose of the paragraph here by writing “hook the reader” in the margins. [Have students do the same.]
  • Let’s turn to “Empty Bellies.” Remember, this was a problem-solution text about world hunger. [Read the first paragraph and stop.] Scholars, do you notice how the author starts with a bunch of questions? They’re not really related to the main idea, but they hook us because we want to know why the author is asking us what we could buy with $1. Let’s annotate “hook the reader” next to that paragraph, too.
  • [Do the same with “Fear on the Brain” – it catches the reader’s attention with “Your heart is racing, your hands feel like ice, etc., and it also asks the reader a question. Annotate.]
  • [Repeat with “Life of the Loggerhead.” In this introductory paragraph, the author sets the scene and makes us wonder who this massive creature is and what she is doing. Annotate.]
  • Readers, it is important that you can think of the purpose of each paragraph because if you don’t know why an author included a paragraph, then you must be confused about the text overall.  Today and every day, you should notice when the author tries to hook the reader or catch the reader’s attention at the beginning of the text. The author can hook the reader by saying something shocking, asking questions, setting the scene, saying something that will make the reader wonder what happens next, or using dialogue.
  • Readers, today when you read, if you find that the beginning paragraph in your story or article catches the reader’s attention, then you may get a small post-it note and mark that.



Read Aloud Lesson:

  • Readers, today we started learning that in everything we read, every paragraph has a purpose, and good readers always know what the purpose of each paragraph is. Today, we are going to start reading a non-fiction text called “Exploding Ants.” We are going to read a section each day. The author of this book, Joanne Settel, wrote this book in a way that would help us understand the main idea more clearly. That means that she organized the book into sections and paragraphs, and each section or paragraph has a purpose. As we read, we are going to talk about the text structure and the purpose of the paragraphs. And, we have to pay very close attention, because we will be writing an open response about this book tomorrow!
  • As always, we should read the title and subtitle first. [Do that and T&T to make predictions – come to the conclusion that this will have something to do with how animals adapt. Talk about what “adapt” means if necessary.]
  • Read the blurb in the front flap – more predictions
  • Read the table of contents – more predictions. Today we are going to read the Introduction and “Fooled Ya”
  • [Remind students that by the time we finish the introduction, we should be able to state the main idea of the book. Start reading the introduction and stop after the first paragraph.] Scholars, what do you think the purpose of this paragraph is? [T&T – to hook the reader.] It is important that I remember that, so I’ll write “hook the reader” on a small post-it note and stick that next to the paragraph.
  • [Continue reading. Stop at the end of the introduction and T&T to come up with a main idea. Discuss until you come up with something like, “Animals do gross things to help themselves and other creatures meet their need for food, shelter, and safety.” Write that on a bigger post-it note and stick it on the front cover of the book.] What is the structure of this text? [T&T until you decide that it is a descriptive text.]
  • [Start reading “Fooled Ya.” Make predictions based on headings and pictures before starting each section. Notice that most of the first paragraphs are meant to catch the reader’s attention, to make us more interested in the disgusting thing this animal does. Mark each hook with a post-it.]
  • [Stop at the end of page 11. We will read “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” next time.]


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