Teaching Author’s Purpose

Teaching author’s purpose is pretty simple if you go about it correctly.  Basically, there are only three purposes for writing, so I teach this unit fairly quickly.  Despite my rapidity, my students still seem to understand the concept well.  Here is how I teach author’s purpose:

1.  Define and provide examples of the three purposes for writing.  I use a PowerPoint, but I’m sure having students write examples and definitions would be helpful no matter how you went about it.  I define writing to inform, persuade, and entertain and then provide examples of texts serving each purpose.  After the lesson, I describe some texts and students informally identify the author’s purpose.  To continue reinforcing, I give students additional practice with their homework.

2. Give students practice identifying the author’s purpose in a variety of texts.  In order to do this, I created worksheets where students identify the author’s purpose based on brief descriptions of texts.  I can fit around thirteen problems on a double-sided worksheet, so students usually master this skill after the second worksheet.  Of course, some of my students require personal attention and I plan for this.  I schedule a day of independent work related to author’s purpose in the middle of the unit.  While students are engaged in their work, I work closely with individual students or small groups.

3.  Formally assess students.  After teaching students about author’s purpose, providing examples, and giving students ample opportunity to practice identifying the author’s purpose, it is time to assess them.  I use 15 question Scantron quiz strips, because I prefer to avoid grading papers. After students have taken the author’s purpose quiz, I…

4.  Analyze the results. My students generally do fairly well on this quiz, either because I teach it early in the year, and they’re being their best selves,  or because it easy.  In either case, I closely examine the results for questions that three or more of my  students are getting wrong. I look for other trends as well.  I believe that it is my responsibility to reteach concepts that a significant portion of the class does not understand.  

Teaching author’s purpose is easier than explaining essay rubrics, but check out some of the resources on my website if you need a place to get started.l


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