Overview: Elementary learners read and analyze informational text passages to determine the author’s purpose. They also identify and record evidence that supports their claim with graphic organizers.
Subject: English Language Arts: Reading Informational Text
Interdisciplinary Opportunities: Social Studies, Math, Science, etc. (based on text content)
Grades: 4th, 5th, 6th
Duration: 1 hour
Related Concepts: Informational Texts, Nonfiction Texts, Author's Purpose, Supporting Evidence
Students will be able to:
Identify the author’s purpose of an informational text by gathering text evidence that supports the author’s purpose and reporting it on a graphic organizer.
Essential Questions: How can the reader find the author’s purpose for writing a passage? How can providing text evidence help an author establish his or her purpose?
Vocabulary: informational, nonfiction, evidence, author's purpose
Common Core Standards Addressed:
- ELA: Reading Informational Text
Show the students a nonfiction book and a fiction book that can be found in your classroom. Question the students about the differences between the books. Once the class has identified the differences, focus on the informational text. Ask the students why they think the author choose to write that book. What did they want the audience to learn?
Explain that authors write for one of three purposes: to entertain, to inform, or to persuade the reader. Today’s lesson will focus on writing to inform, or Informational texts. When authors write to inform, they use facts, reasons, and truths. Read the following passage about dogs to the students. Copies of the passage can be found at .
As a class, brainstorm a list of reasons this author’s purpose was to write an informational text, to teach the reader facts, reasons, and truths. Have the students turn and talk to a neighbor with a fact that they learned from the text, and evidence from the passage, to prove the fact.
Have the students work together to find facts and evidence in the passage that show the author’s purpose. Once everyone is complete, gather the class to review the passage(s) as a whole. For every fact that is found that proves the author’s purpose, it should have the supporting evidence to prove the fact.
Once everyone has completed their graphic organizer, discuss what was easy and what was difficult with the activity. For example, it might be easy to say why an author wrote a passage, but it might be more difficult to find the evidence to back up your thought.
- Observe students during the pair activity and the classroom discussion after the read aloud.
- Assess reading analysis skills with each of the graphic organizers.
Match passages according to students' reading level.
Assign partners based on current performance levels.
Students still forming writing skills could highlight the evidence to support the author’s purpose in the passages.
Provide a graphic organizer that meets students' academic level—an easier one for lower levels, and a more advanced one for higher-performing students.
Bring the skills obtained in this lesson to a full unit on identifying author's purpose.
Have learners write their own informational passages based on their research and knowledge; prompt them to switch papers and see if peers can identify their purpose for writing the passages.
Additional materials to guide your teaching:
- Informational Text: Marathon Kids
- Informational Text: Earth
- Informational Text: The Bee
- Informational Text: Spain
- Informational Text: Ice City
- Graphic Organizer for Informational Text
- Nonfiction Resources
- Informational Text Resources
- Author's Purpose Resources
- Author's Purpose in Informational Text Resources