Lesson: Non-fiction Text Structures: Author's Purpose: Descriptive Paragraphs (Lesson 22)

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Lesson Objective

Paragraphs have purposes. Some paragraphs are meant to be descriptive.

Lesson Plan

Lesson 22:

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. (Some paragraphs are meant to be descriptive – NF & F)


Reading Workshop: Reading binders, pencils, copies oCrashing Into History, post-its

Read Aloud: copy of “Exploding Ants”, small post-its



Reading Workshop Lesson:

  • Readers, we know that every paragraph has one purpose – one topic that it is about. It is our job to notice that the author is moving on to a new topic and figure out what that new topic is.
  • Can anyone remind us of the three paragraph purposes that we’ve learned about so far? (T&T and share out – they should be able to explain that some paragraphs hook the reader some paragraphs teach the reader the main idea, and some paragraphs explain a sequence of events.] Today, I am going to teach you that the purpose of some paragraphs is to describe one thing. We have already talked about descriptive texts – texts there is one main idea and all of the details describe that main idea. But some texts have paragraphs that are only meant to describe one thing. We are going to read some texts from this year to find paragraphs that describe one thing.
  • Open your binder to your “Non-Fiction” tab.  Let’s try to find descriptive paragraphs a non-fiction text.We have already read a descriptive non-fiction article – Fear on the Brain was all about how our brains tell our bodies to act when we’re afraid. We are going to look at a text that is NOT a descriptive text, but that has some descriptive paragraphs in it. Turn to “Crashing Into History: The Flight of the Vin Fiz.” Descriptive paragraphs can happen throughout a text, so we will read the whole thing and stop when we find paragraphs where one thing is being described. [Read and stop to annotate descriptive paragraphs, including: Let’s read and stop when we notice a paragraph whose purpose is to give details about one thing.
      • First paragraph – describing Cal Rodgers’s challenges (you could also say this is a hook)
      • Page 33: “Full of confidence…” – describing the Hearst Prize
      • Page 34: “Although the Vin Fiz was custom-built…” – describes problems with the Vin Fiz
      • Page 34: “Cal sat beside the engine…” – describes how Cal flew the plane
      • Page 35: “Wherever he landed…” – describes public reaction to Cal
      • Readers, it is important to think about the purpose of each paragraph because if you don’t know why an author included a paragraph, then you’ll be confused about the text overall.  Today and every day, you should notice when the purpose of a paragraph is to hook the reader, teach you the main idea, explain a sequence of events, or describe one thing. If you find a paragraph that has one of these purposes, you may mark that with a post-it


Read Aloud Lesson:


  • Readers, we have been learning that in all texts we read, every paragraph has a purpose, and good readers always know what the purpose of each paragraph is. Today, we are going to continue looking at the text structure and the purpose of the paragraphs in “Exploding Ants.” Remember the newest type of paragraph that we learned about – descriptive paragraphs that give details about one thing. We are going to practice noticing those today, in addition to the other paragraphs we’ve been working on.
  •  [Start reading “Getting It Down.” Make predictions based on headings and pictures before starting each section. T&T to discuss the purpose of hook, main idea, sequence, and descriptive paragraphs, and mark them with post-it notes.]
    • Descriptive paragraphs include:
      • Page 29: “Owls normally spit up two pellets a day…” – describes facts about owl pellets
      • Page 29: “Six small mammals” –describes an owl’s diet
      • Page 30: “The snake’s ability” – describes the snake’s jaw
      • Page 31: “Because snakes eat such big meals…” describes a snake’s diet


  • Stop reading at the end of page 32. We will read “The Mating Game” next time.]



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