The ability to analyze an author’s purpose is a useful skill that students will utilize for the rest of their lives.
When we watch tv shows, read magazines, enjoy movies, glance at billboards, scan a menu, or read a recipe book, the author or creator of these mediums is always sending us a message – whether we realize it or not.
He is trying to encourage the reader to take some sort of action, think a certain way, or absorb some type of information that he feels the reader should know.
While communicating a message to readers isn’t inherently a bad thing, some authors do try to negatively change/control people’s mindset, beliefs, or the type of information they consume.
That’s why it’s essential to teach students about an author’s purpose and the significant influence authors have on readers.
Exposing students to a variety of author’s purpose activities will help them analyze and comprehend what message the author is sending in addition to why.
The following author’s purpose activities will help students move beyond PIE.
These authentic activities encourage higher-order thinking and take students’ reading comprehension to new levels.
These author’s purpose activities will help students to…
- Identify the author’s purpose.
- Justify the author’s purpose using evidence from the text.
- Explain how an author’s perspective influence’s text.
- Draw a conclusion about what the author is trying to persuade the reader/listener to do or think.
- Distinguish between different author’s purposes in texts with the same topic.
- Classify and categorize examples of the author’s purpose.
Keep reading to discover how you can download a copy of these fantastic author’s purpose activities.
Author’s Purpose Activities That Promote Critical Thinking
1. Debate Cards
Of the author’s purpose activities on this list, debates are arguably the most exciting for students!
Debates are fantastic for developing students’ critical thinking skills, opening their minds to various viewpoints, and investigating alternative ideas.
They aren’t arguments but responsible and respectful dialogues that broaden perspectives.
Here’s how to use author’s purpose debate cards…
- Divide students into groups: half of class vs. other half, partner vs. partner, or teacher vs. class/group (the latter option great for modeling)
- Select a debate card topic.
- Each group takes some time to research and take note of the various viewpoints regarding the issue. (Research can be facts and/or personal experiences.)
- Then each team takes a stance on the subject at hand, defending its position to the other group.
- One of two options will result: participants will reshape their opinion based on new knowledge or their point of view on the topic will strengthen.
2. Word Sorts
Word sorts increase students’ comprehension of related vocabulary words (in this case, literary genres) by having learners categorize an assortment of pre-selected terms.
Here’s how the author’s purpose word sorts activity works…
- Students cut out the word sorts, and place them in the appropriate column (either persuade, inform, entertain, or other).
- The word sorts activity page includes blank sorts. Students brainstorm additional types of texts, record them on the blank sorts, and then place them in the appropriate column.
- Afterwards, they need to justify their category choices with evidence. Provide sentence frames as support if needed. (An advertisement ________ because ________.)
Example: If the student placed the “advertisement” word sort into the persuade column, he or she would justify the selection like this…
An advertisement persuades because it is trying to convince the reader to make a particular purchase.
Quick tip: Encourage students to use synonyms at times for persuade, inform, and entertain so that they don’t use the same three words repeatedly.
Author’s purpose bookmarks (next of the author’s purpose activities) are great for this.
During your author’s purpose unit, students will analyze lots of different books.
It’s easy for them to fall into the habit of using the same three terms repeatedly when discussing the author’s purpose: persuade, inform, and entertain.
To support their efforts in utilizing synonyms, provide author’s purpose bookmarks (also known as thinkmarks).
These helpful tools come in handy when working on many types of author’s purpose activities.
4. Author’s Purpose Scavenger Hunt
This simple yet highly-effective author’s purpose activity keeps students engaged.
Here’s how it works…
- Distribute an author’s purpose scavenger hunt graphic organizer to each learner.
- In pairs, students hunt for various types of text. These text selections come from the classroom library, school library, environmental print, etc.
- As they choose and analyze texts, they fill in the graphic organizer with the appropriate information: title of book (first column), author’s purpose (second column), and evidence from text to support reasons (third column).
5. Match the Scenarios
Project on a screen or distribute to each student a copy of the author’s purpose pie chart graphic organizer along with a set of the accompanying scenario cards (see image below).
Here’s how to teach Match the Scenarios author’s purpose activity…
- Review with students the primary reasons an author writes: to persuade, to inform, to entertain, to explain, and to describe.
- Have them write these words on the graphic organizer.
- One-by-one, read with students each scenario card, discussing the evidence that supports the author’s purpose of that particular card.
- Afterwards, learners place the card in the correct blank square on their individual pie chart.
6. Author’s Purpose Reader’s Theater
Readers’ theater scripts are short plays that focus on vocal rather than visual expression. There is no need for students to memorize lines or create fancy costumes.
The focus is on helping students improve fluency, accuracy, expression, and reading comprehension skills.
Readers’ theaters present a fun way for students to enrich their understanding of various concepts, including author’s purpose!
Use this author’s purpose readers’ theater script as a center activity, partner read, or as a text during Readers’ Workshop to tackle other reading objectives.
Here’s a suggestion for how to use the author’s purpose reader’s theater script…
- Provide each reader her own script, and assign each a part. Each child should highlight her individual parts in yellow.
- Now do the reader’s’ theater as a read aloud to model for students good reading fluency, accuracy, and expression.
- Afterwards, do the reader’s theater as a shared reading with the whole class. Shared reading is reading the play with students. The focus is on understanding the content within the script, which is the author’s purpose. As the script is read, pause for discussion of concepts and key vocabulary.
- After Shared reading, have students practice their parts.
- Finally, learners will complete reading comprehension questions that accompany the script.
Quick note: The author’s purpose reader’s theater activity may take a few class periods to complete so take that into consideration when lesson planning.
7. Reading Passages From Different Genres
Reading comprehension passages fit well as one of your author’s purpose activities because they are low-prep and prompt students to apply their knowledge.
Choose reading passages from a variety of genres so that students will have an opportunity to analyze the author’s purpose from different types of texts.
8. Author’s Purpose Task Cards
An alternative to worksheets, task cards target s specific skill – in this case author’s purpose.
Here’s how to use the author’s purpose task cards…
- Each card presents a short text selection. Students must analyze each scenario and decide if the author is trying to persuade, inform, or entertain.
- Task cards usually come in sets of eight, so students will have the opportunity to practice with multiple cards within a class period.
9. Writing Prompts
This is one of the author’s purpose activities that integrates seamlessly with writer’s workshop.
Here’s how to use author’s purpose writing prompts…
- Give students a prompt or sentence starter.
- They then write a paragraph or two that persuades, entertains, informs, etc. depending on the instructions of the prompt.
10. Mini Author’s Purpose Anchor Charts
Anchor charts are posters strategically placed in classrooms that students reference when their learning process comes to a roadblock.
Like an anchor, anchor charts hold knowledge in place and serve as a reminder to students as to what learning has taken place.
Sometimes, however, there isn’t enough classroom wall space to fit all the anchor charts created.
That’s where mini anchor charts come in.
Here’s how to use author’s purpose mini anchor charts…
- The teacher snaps a picture of a completed anchor chart, downloads it, and then makes a photocopy for each student.
- Students then paste these mini anchor charts into their reader’s and/or writer’s notebook.
- They refer to them as they complete author’s purpose activities.
- Additionally, mini anchor charts are perfect to use as a reference while working one-on-one with a student who needs extra support with the learning objective.
11. Author’s Purpose Interactive 4-Column Anchor Chart
Here’s an easy author’s purpose activity that builds as students’ knowledge of author’s purpose grows.
How it works…
- Divide an author’s purpose anchor chart into four columns: persuade, inform, entertain, and other.
- Place it in a visible and accessible place in the classroom.
- Throughout the year, students add titles of read aloud texts along with examples of evidence that support the author’s purpose.
12. Author’s Purpose Read Alouds and Mentor Texts
Mentor texts serve as references to support teachers as they teach author’s purpose.
As students listen to various read aloud books, they analyze how the author uses language and even visuals to convey a particular message.
Encourage students to record their thoughts and observations using sticky notes.
There are many clever strategies that authors use to persuade, inform, and entertain.
That’s why it’s essential that students be equipped with the proper literacy skill-set so that they know how to interpret all the signs.
Following is a round-up of the best author’s purpose mentor texts.
- Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs (Kathleen V. Kudlinski, S.D. Schindler) – inform
- Earrings (Judith Viorst) – persuade
- George Washington and the Genera’s Dog (Frank Murphy) – entertain, inform
- Hey, Little Ant (Phillip M. Hoose) – persuade
- I Wanna Iguana (Karen Kaufman Orloff, David Catrow) – persuade
- If the World Were a Village (David J. Smith) – inform
- Mr. Peabody’s Apples (Madonna) – educate
- Rotten Teeth (Laura Simms, David Catrow) – entertain
- The Secret Knowledge of Grownups (David Wisniewski) – entertain
- The True Story of the Three Pigs (Jon Scieszca) – persuade, entertain
- The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps (Jeannette Winter) – inform
- The Who Was Series – various authors – inform
Final Thoughts: Author’s Purpose Activities
These author’s purpose activities equip elementary and middle school students with the reasoning skills necessary to understand and analyze an author’s message.
Additionally, these tasks develop students’ ability to make sound judgments about certain topics.
Download all of these free authors purpose activities for a limited time via Google Slides! (You need to first log into your Google account before you’ll be able to make a copy.)