Analyzing Author's Purpose with Secondary Students using Newsela

Deepen student comprehension through identification and analysis of Author's Purpose
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Authors Purpose with Secondary Students Overview

About This Strategy

Critical to student analysis of texts is their understanding of the author's purpose for writing the text. Using the annotations feature and high-interest pieces in Newsela, students are able to identify the author's purpose and evaluate the author's choices that support the development of this purpose. Students can then replicate some of the author's choices in their own writing.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Select a Newsela text for students to read that aligns to the current curriculum.

  2. Develop a written response prompt:

    • For Newsela PRO users: Edit the Write Prompt so that it focuses on an analysis of author's purpose, as in the resources section.

    • For non Newsela PRO users, have students respond to the author's purpose Write Prompt that you develop using Google Docs or on a piece of paper.

  3. Review the types of author's purpose: to persuade, to inform, and to entertain (see slide deck in resource section below).

Student Preparation:

  1. Introduce students to or review with them the three types of author's purpose: to persuade, to inform, and to entertain.

  2. Assign students to work in groups of 3-4, and have students brainstorm a list of words/phrases and topics that authors might use within their assigned category. Teachers might consider providing a document, as in the resources section, for students to use. Additionally, in the resources section, an example list of words/phrases and topics is provided.

  3. After brainstorming, share that students will use the brainstorming activity to identify the author's purpose in articles.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Assign the Newsela article or Text Set at the Newsela Recommended reading level for each student.

  2. Independently, students should read and annotate the article. Students should highlight the author's choices that indicate the purpose (words, phrases, persuasive language, facts, etc.).

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. After reading and annotating, students should complete a handout, similar to the one in the resources section, to help them analyze the article and the author's purpose. Words and phrases that students annotated during reading should be recorded in the "tone" section.

  2. In their groups from the brainstorming activity, allow students to discuss the article they read by sharing what they believe the author's purpose was and how (based on the author's choices and their notes on the handout) they knew what the author's purpose was.

  3. To assess students' comprehension, have them independently respond to the Write Prompt either in Newsela or via Google Docs or a handout.

Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets

Natural Resources

  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: English Language Arts, Science, Technology & Engineering

PRO/CON Articles

  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: English Language Arts

The Importance of Individuality and Individual Thought

  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies

Lesson Extension: Writing Task

As a follow-up to identifying an author's purpose while reading, teachers might ask students to transfer their knowledge into their own writing.

Implementation Steps:

  1. Students should identify a topic that would lend itself to the type of writing they just read (persuasive, informative, entertaining).

  2. Students should consult with their group members to see what types of writing moves made the author's purpose evident (word choice, structure, etc.).

  3. Students should select two of these features to include in their own writing.