Friday, December 2, 2011

Teaching Author's Purpose in 4th Grade ESOL

To us as teachers, author's purpose is a relatively simple concept, and it is easy for us to pick out the author's purpose of just about any text we encounter. The same cannot be said for our students, and since this skill is so easy for us, it can be easy to forget how challenging it is for our students.

On Monday, the mainstream language arts teacher for 4th grade introduced the topic, had students take notes, and then showed a short video. I realized that this was certainly not going to be enough for my students to grasp the concept, and doubtful that it is enough for even the mainstream kids.

So, I made a plan for my pull-out day and decided we would get down and dirty with author's purpose this week in our pull-out groups. We began on Tuesday by going through a short powerpoint on the skill, reviewing the three main purposes for writing, and doing a few examples. I also introduced 4 distinct steps that the students should take to determine the author's purpose. I'll post that anchor chart later!

Next, we did an author's purpose gallery walk. (I've heard of doing this for genre, but adapted the idea for author's purpose). I located two texts that fit each purpose, and placed them around the room. The students had a gallery walk sheet where they wrote the title, author, and purpose. For each book, they also had to write three pieces of "evidence" (like text features) that helped them determine the purpose. I was able to circulate while they worked and rotated through the various books, and was able to talk them through the process when they struggled. It also gave each student a chance to be exposed to each type of text.

During our Thursday pull-out session, we continued to work on author's purpose by using the leveled readers students are currently reading in their mainstream class. We used a graphic organizer that helped students determine the purpose based on the story's main idea, text features, and the way they felt when reading it. All in all, the students have worked very hard and seem to be getting it. Next Tuesday, we're going to do an author's purpose writing activity involving DOUGHNUTS! I'll definitely take pictures and post them.

All the activities and organizers I used to teach this skill are now available in my TpT store as my Author's Purpose Activity Sheets. You can also get the Author's Purpose Powerpoint Presentation and Cloze Notes. Even better, buy the Author's Purpose Teaching Pack, which includes both. Save a little by buying them bundled. Stop on by and check them out!

Update: Please see Author's Purpose is More Fun Than a Bucket of Cookies to see the writing activity!

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