Using clues to identify the author’s purpose

Don’t you love hands-on activities for teaching reading? I really have a thing for sorts. There’s something about the way kids have to read closely, and say, “No, this is not that same as that. This belongs there,” that makes me feel like they’re getting it! I can usually create a sort that works for anything – even author’s purpose!

While I was working with some struggling readers in fifth grade, I noticed that they didn’t really have an understanding that authors have a specific purpose for the way they write. They include different types of language and details based on their purpose. To help them solidify their understanding, I pulled out the Author’s Purpose Sort from this Author’s Purpose resource!

A Hands-on Activity for Author’s Purpose

Before I handed out the cards, we built the top part of this anchor chart. We focused on the four main purposes and then we brainstormed the genres that each purpose would be suited to. I reviewed an explanation for each purpose as well.

After making sure we were all on the same page, I handed out the cards. Each team of three had a set of eight cards with a few paragraphs on each card. There were enough cards in the short texts to ensure that students could make a good decision about the author’s purpose.

Students sorted the cards into the four purposes, marking their evidence in pencil or highlighter.

Then I had each group share one of their cards. They read the title of the card and stated their reason and which clues helped them decide on the purpose.

This activity helped us develop a common language for discussing author’s purpose, and helped my kids understand that they can find clues if they read between the lines!

Check out my Author’s Purpose Pack for the sorting activity and so much more for teaching author’s purpose!

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