EL Support Lesson

Identifying the Author's Purpose

This lesson gives students foundational skills needed to identify the author's purpose in a variety of texts. Use the lesson as a stand alone or as a pre-lesson to What Were They Thinking?
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the What Were They Thinking? lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

No standards associated with this content.

No standards associated with this content.

No standards associated with this content.

Which set of standards are you looking for?

This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the What Were They Thinking? lesson plan.

Students will be able to explain the idea of an author’s purpose and analyze texts to determine whether the author writes to persuade, inform, or entertain the reader.


Students will be able to distinguish facts from opinions and orally identify the author's purpose in short text selections using strategic pairing and sentence stems.

(5 minutes)
  • Share with students what type of texts you enjoy reading (e.g. mystery, recipes, etc). Ask students to turn to a partner and discuss the types of books/texts they like to read. Invite a few students to share their conversations with the whole group and record students' answers on a piece of chart paper.
  • Show students examples of various types of texts (recipe book, newspaper article, picture book, joke book, nonfiction text), and explain that when an author writes, they have a reason or a purpose for writing the text.
  • Create a phrase bank collaboratively with students on author's purposes on a separate piece of chart paper. Ask students to think about why an author writes a particular text. Guide students to think of reasons such as to make people laugh, for fun, to give people information, to explain how to do something, to convince people of what to buy. Make sure the phrase bank is visible for the duration of this lesson. Make the connection between students' ideas of purpose and the formal three reasons for writing: to entertain, to inform, and to persuade.
  • Hold up a picture book and ask students to talk with a partner about what they predict the author's purpose was, using the phrase bank. Provide the following sentence stem: "I predict the author's purpose was to ____."
  • Repeat the process for another type of text. Invite a few students to share their prediction with the whole group.
  • Tell students that it is important for readers to know how to identify the author's purpose when they read a text because it helps the reader choose the type of book to read and also understand the text more deeply.
(8 minutes)
  • Introduce the vocabulary words for the lesson by reading them aloud, and have students repeat them. For the words skipped and broomstick, show students an image and provide a student-friendly definition.
  • Display a copy of the Frayer Model worksheet on the document camera. Model to students how to complete the Frayer model for the word military by filling out each section. Include the definition in L1, if applicable.
  • Assign one of the following words to a pair or small group of students: surprise, fact, opinion, persuade, inform, entertain. Provide them with bilingual dictionaries, if applicable, or glossaries to complete the sections of the graphic organizer collaboratively. Inform them that they must become experts on their word because they will present their vocabulary word to the other groups in their class.
  • Circulate the room to assist students as needed.
  • Give each group a minute to present the various completed sections of their Frayer model to the rest of the class using the document camera.
(12 minutes)
  • Write the following two sentences on the board and invite two students to read them aloud:
    • Dogs and cats are mammals.
    • Dogs make better pets than cats.
  • Explain that today they will learn how to distinguish between facts and opinions, which are different types of sentences that authors use for different purposes.
  • Tell students that the first sentence is a fact because it is able to be proven true, while the second sentence is an opinion, based on someone's beliefs or perspective.
  • Distribute the Fact or Opinion Sentences worksheet to students and read aloud the teaching box. Emphasize that facts are often used to inform or educate readers while opinions are usually used to persuade or convince readers of something.
  • Model how to identify facts and opinions in the first two sentences.
  • Pair up students and instruct them to determine which sentences are facts and which are opinions for the remaining sentences. Review their answers as a whole class and call on a few students to defend their reasoning using the following sentence stems:
    • I know this sentence is a fact because ____.
    • I know this sentence is an opinion because ____.
  • Read aloud the directions for the second section of the worksheet and ask a learner to repeat them.
  • Point out the example to students and instruct them to think of a fact and an opinion on the topic of rats before sharing their ideas with a partner.
  • Tell students that if their partner agrees that their fact and opinion sentences are correct, they can write them in the space provided.
  • Instruct students to write a fact and opinion sentence for the last two topics.
  • Assist struggling students as needed.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute copies of the Author's Purpose Task Cards worksheet to students and display a copy on the document camera.
  • Inform learners that they will read a short paragraph and determine the author's purpose of writing the text.
  • Read aloud the first task card. Pause after reading the text to think aloud about the clues that lead you to your conclusion of the author's purpose. For example, "When I see words and phrases like should and better than the other holidays, I think that the author is expressing their opinion and trying to convince or persuade me about something. So the author's purpose must be to persuade."
  • Repeat this process with the second task card.
  • Assign students into effective partnerships and instruct them to determine the author's purpose for the rest of the task cards collaboratively.


  • Work with Beginning ELs in a small group to help them determine the author's purpose in the task cards. Read the text aloud and provide translation into home language, if appplicable.
  • Repeat the directions for student work, and invite ELs to rephrase the directions in their L1 or in English.


  • Allow Advanced ELs to complete the discourse section independently.
(3 minutes)
  • Instruct students to read a fact or an opinion they wrote from the Fact or Opinion Sentences worksheet and have other students show thumbs up if they think it is a fact and thumbs to the side if they think it is an opinion.
  • Look around the room to gauge learners' understanding of this skill.
(2 minutes)
  • Ask students to discuss the following questions (three W's) with a partner:
    • What did we learn today? (Three main author's purposes are to persuade, to inform, and to entertain.)
    • So what? (importance, usefulness of knowing author's purpose)
    • Now what? (How does this fit into what we are learning as readers, how does it affect our thinking when we read?)
  • Provide sentence stems and examples for the second and third W:
    • Knowing the author's purpose helps us to ____.
    • If we know what the author's purpose is before we start to read a book, we can ____.
  • Ask each partnership to share one piece of the three W's they discussed, and record students' responses on a piece of chart paper.

Add to collection

Create new collection

Create new collection

New Collection


New Collection>

0 items