Author’s Purpose is a simple concept that can be explained with one simple term…PIE. I know what you’re thinking, mmmmm, right? But it’s not quite that delicious. When someone takes the time to write a book or a piece of text or a commercial or tv show, they either want to PERSUADE you into doing or thinking something (P), INFORM you of factual information (I), or ENTERTAIN you with something funny, scary, or even sad (E). When you put them together, they make the PIE acronym, which helps students remember these three “fancy schmancy” words. It’s important for students to understand the Author’s Purpose in writing a text so that they can enhance their comprehension and get from it what the author intended.
I like to spend a sufficient amount of time on each strategy to allow for an introduction, modeling, scaffolding, independent practice, assessment, and reflection. Therefore, I spend approximately 1 week on each strategy and follow a similar instructional routine. This is day 1 of Author’s Purpose Week – Introducing the Strategy.
Connection: I always start by connecting today’s lesson to something kids have previously learned so that it triggers their schema and background knowledge. Since this is the first they are learning about Author’s Purpose this year, I make a connection to something they are all familiar with: television. I use my Ipad to play a short clip of a commercial and ask why think someone took the time to make it. One of the students is likely to say that they made the commercial because they want you to buy their product. I reframe their thinking and say that they want to PERSUADE you into buying it. I then show a clip of a clip of a kid friendly news broadcast. I ask, what is the purpose of this broadcast? When a student says it’s so you know what’s going on in the world, I reframe their thinking and say the purpose is to INFORM you with what’s happening around you. Then I do the same with a clip from a kid friendly tv show and ask why they think someone made it. Now there will likely be a few students who say they made it to make money but I redirect their thinking and say that they made it to ENTERTAIN you. I review the 3 words and then I introduce the term AUTHOR’S PURPOSE.
Teaching Point: This is when I tell kids explicitly what we will be working on. I say, “This week, we will be focusing on Author’s Purpose, which is the reason an author writes a text.” I tell them that it is important to understand the Author’s Purpose of a text so that they can read with purpose and have greater comprehension. I use an anchor chart to add the terms Persuade, Inform, and Entertain with an explanation of each (see resource).
Active Engagement: This is where students get to try out the strategy that I just taught them. I show them a few different books and we discuss as a class the Author’s Purpose in writing each. Some good text samples to use include a textbook, a picture book, a student writing sample, an opinion piece from a newspaper, etc.
Link to Ongoing Work: During this portion of the mini-lesson, I give the students a task that they will focus on during Independent Reading time. Now that I’ve introduced Author’s Purpose, I tell them that when they are reading today, their job is just to notice the Author’s Purpose of the books in their browsing boxes. I want them to decide if each book is written to persuade, inform, or entertain. At the end of Reader’s Workshop, they will meet with their assigned reading partner to discuss what they noticed. I remind them that I will randomly choose a few students to share so that they make sure to complete their task.
Transition Time: Every day after the mini-lesson, students get 5 minutes of Prep Time to choose new books (if needed), find a comfy spot, use the bathroom, and anything else they might need to do to prepare for 40 minutes of uninterrupted Independent Reading. I set it up that way so that students have no reason to get out of their spots. They are expected to have 5 books in their browsing box at all times so if they finish a book they have others to choose from without moving around the room. They are also expected to have a pencil and sticky notes in their browsing boxes in case they need them for the day’s task. I strongly encourage them to use the bathroom so they do not need to go during reading time. At the end of the 5 minute Prep Time, I do a countdown, 5 4 3 2 1, Level 0 (referring to volume level). By the end of countdown, students must be in their spots and silent with all of the materials they need to sustain their reading. They must follow the distance rule of arm’s length apart from any other student. They are not to get out of their spots for any reason so that they can focus on their book and their task. Because I use Independent Reading time to work with students one-on-one or in small groups, I really stress to the students that the teacher is not available to everyone during this time. I encourage them to problem solve on their own and hold all questions or comments until the end of Independent Reading time. All of this takes practice but once it is all in place, Independent Reading becomes a magical time when students are engrossed in their books and the teacher is free to meet individual needs of students through conferencing, strategy groups, or guided reading.
Guided Practice: Today, I would be conferencing with students right at their comfy spots and asking them to explain the Author’s Purpose of the book they are reading. This is also when I could pull students for assessments, one-on-one reading, strategy groups, or guided reading groups.
Closing: At the end of 40 minutes, I remind students that their job during reading time was to notice the Author’s Purpose of their books. I ask them to repeat the term, Author’s Purpose. They were asked to decide if each book was written to persuade you, inform you, or entertain you. Then I ask them to meet with their reading partner to share what they noticed about Author’s Purpose. After partners have had a chance to share with each other, I ask a few students to share with the class. I then tell the class that we will focus on Author’s Purpose for the rest of the week. Reader’s Workshop has come to an end so students put their browsing boxes away and make sure the library is neat and organized.