What was supposed to be an hour long test turned into much longer, and we're only on day 2. I haven't had a day yet that I've been able to pull all of my groups, and today was worse than most. Hopefully they will all be finished by Friday so I can start a normal schedule next week.
I have been able to push in to my 4th grade classes for an author's purpose lesson, though, and I thought I could at least share it!
A few years back, I wanted to create something to help my students get past "PIE" for author's purpose. I knew they weren't really understanding enough, so I made this little pack.
I first ask students what they think an author would really say if they were being interviewed about why they wrote their book. I want them to realize it would be silly for them to simply respond, "To inform". Then we brainstorm a few things they might say (I usually go with J.K. Rowling since I have older readers).
After that, I explain to them how they can find different pieces of evidence to help them determine the author's purpose: characters/topic, setting, choice of language, details, and genre. We talk about each of those pieces and then practice with a book.
The only section that really takes a lot of explaining at this level is language. They all want to write "English" and move on with it. I have to give lots of examples for each part. Here are my examples:
- Persuasive books will have words such as "should", "the best", "don't", etc.
- Informational books will always include facts. You only need to choose one or two to write.
- Entertaining books will have story elements ("Once upon a time"), characters, and events that are not necessary for the story line. I explain that if there are any funny or scary lines, these would be good to include.
If I had more time, I would show how to fill out the sheet on an informational or persuasive book as well as a fictional story, but I could only do one. This year I chose to read a chapter from Sideways Stories from Wayside School (Chapter 10: Paul) because it's one of my favorite. Plus I know it will hold the students' attention even without pictures. You could do this activity with any book, though.
I also included a few practice paragraphs for students to try writing the author's purpose a little more. They need a lot of guidance at the beginning, so I usually ask them to work with a partner or even a table to come up with the purpose (as I walk around to each group and help) until they're a little more comfortable with it.