What is an Author?

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SWBAT identify and make connections to key details in an informational text by asking and answering questions.

Big Idea

Motivate your students to want to read and write by showing them authors are real people.


Common Core Connection:

The CCSS tell us that, with the focus on a wide range of reading through literature and literary nonfiction of steadily increasing sophistication, students can gain a reservoir of literary and cultural knowledge, references, and images, the ability to evaluate intricate arguments, and the capacity to surmount the challenges posed by complex texts. In light of this, felt it important to create a book study unit.  As part of this unit I felt it equally important to explain and explore the parts of a book, the elements of a book, and types of books.  I wanted my students to feel comfortable with the subject matter as well as make this a memorable learning experience.  To do this in this unit I focused on the works of Laura Numeroff, but it is my intent that a teacher can use the ideas and resources in this unit to adapt to any author or text.

After reviewing the anchor standards and the note on range and content of each anchor standard it appeared to me that in order to fully meet these standards students need to know and understand what a literary and nonfiction text are, as well as who the authors are of these books and texts.    As part of this unit I felt it equally important that Students also know the parts of a book, the elements of a book, and types of books.  Otherwise when they are citing references, evaluating, or making arguments they will be unable to appreciate who they are getting their information from, or where to find the information.

I also felt it important to start this unit by introducing the author as a real person that students would see they had similar life experiences with. This background will help them dive deeper into the Author's Craft and Purpose standards later in the year.

Lesson Overview:

In this first lesson of the book study unit, I used a PowerPoint and autobiography to introduce my students to a contemporary author whose books they are familiar with.  To help them make the connection that they have a lot in common with the author I then had my students complete an activity where they compared themselves to the author.



5 minutes

In this introductory lesson my goal was to introduce Laura Numeroff as a real contemporary person to get my students familiar with as an author.  To begin the lesson I asked my students, “What is an author?”  They promptly replied, “The person who writes the words.”   Satisfied that they were aware of what an author is and does, I then explained that we were going to learn more about Laura Numeroff and her book series “If you give a ….”

Guided Practice

15 minutes

I further explained that this was called an “author study” or “book study,” and asked them why would it be important to learn about authors.  After giving them think and table partner share time I used the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup) to select three students to share their answers. After several students shared, examples of the answers they gave included: to help us be better readers, they write lots of books to read, so we can learn more.  After validating their answers I showed them the power point I created about Laura Numeroff, stopping on each slide so my students could comment or ask questions. 

I would suggest that you treat the Power-Point, Introducing the Author, as optional, but you can see how excited my students are to making real life connections to Laura Numeroff.  I am validating what they are sharing by having them raise their hands to show me they too like or did the same thing that is being shared.  Students need this type of validation to build confidence and motivation.

When I came to the last slide on the PowerPoint, I showed my student the book, If You Give an Author a Pencil, and explained that as I read this book to them they were to think of questions they would ask Laura Numeroff if she were in the class visiting us.  I then read the book all the way through, only commenting on parts that mirrored the PowerPoint.  When I finished reading I gave my students a moment to think of their questions that the book sparked.  I reminded my students to think about questions that were about Laura Numeroff’s stories, such as: Did you write stories about your sisters?  I then used the magic cup to call on students to ask their questions of Laura Numeroff.

The questions my students asked included:

  • How many books have you written?
  • Where do you get the ideas for your books?
  • Do draw pictures for books? 
  • How do you become a good writer?

As I wrote these questions on the Promethean board, my students copied and saved them in their folders for a later lesson.

To close this part of the lesson I reminded my students that Laura Numeroff was a real person like us and that we learned we had a lot in common with her, such as liking to sing and collecting things.

Whole Group Activity

15 minutes

To further re-enforce that my students had a lot in common with Laura Numeroff I displayed The Author and Me activity sheet on the Promethean board and asked them to write on one side the things they learned that Laura Numeroff either liked to do or had, and on the other side to write things that they liked to do or have.  I then told them after making their lists they were to circle anything that was the same on both sides.  They were then to write one sentence describing what they had in common with the author Laura Numeroff.

After I checked for understanding by using the magic cup to select a student to restate the directions, I passed out the student copies of the The Author and Me activity sheet.  As my students began to work I circulated around the room to check on student progress and monitor their work.  In this video, Comparing Selves to the Author, the students realized they not only had a lot in common with Laura Numeroff, but also with each other.  As my students began to finish their sentences, I told them to add details to the silhouettes to make them look like themselves and Laura Numeroff.

When my students finished, I collected their work (Student Work Sample) and randomly selected four to read to the class. 

I displayed all the activity sheets on the wall so that my students could enjoy them and be reminded they had a lot in common with a real author.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

During this time my students are divided into their leveled reading groups and rotate every 15 to 20 minutes through different ELA activities.

It has been a long time practice of mine to include journal writing as an independent practice activity to end lessons.  Journal writing gives students the opportunity to synthesize and analyze what they just practiced, and it also offers them a chance to be creative by adding a picture to go with their own text. Establishing a journal writing routine also helps students get comfortable writing everyday, which makes them more confident, adaptable writers.

The prompt I put on the Promethean board: How does knowing that Laura Numeroff and you like to do some of the same things make you feel about reading her books? 

As my students rotate to my differentiated reading group time, I quickly check their journals for completeness, writing conventions, and understanding of the prompt.  This student, Journal Sample: High Reading Group, wrote a nice piece, however, not to the prompt.  When I asked her about the difference, she stated she thought she was to write about what she and the author had in common.  Which tells me either I overstated the activity or did not explain the directions clearly enough.  After reviewing my other students' work I noted that nearly all of them said knowing Laura Numeroff and they had a lot in common made them want to read more of her books.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

For a sticker my students worked in pairs to tell me what else they would like to learn about Laura Numeroff.