Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Determining What Author's Purpose REALLY Is [Before]

Subject Area

English Language Arts




In this activity, students will be introduced to the different types of author's purposes as they relate to informational text. The students will brainstorm to determine which categories different types of informational text belong in - this is in preparation for citing evidence to explain author's perspective in an informational text. 

This learning activity was created as a result of the ALEX - Alabama Virtual Library (AVL) Resource Development Summit.

    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 4


    Analyze events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in informational texts, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

    Unpacked Content



    • Analyze
    • Events
    • Procedures
    • Ideas
    • Concepts
    • Informational texts


    Students know:
    • Informational text often describes events, procedures, ideas, or concepts.


    Students are able to:
    • Use specific information in informational text to describe events, procedures, ideas, or concepts.
    • Explain the causes and effects of the events described in text.


    Students understand that:
    • They can use information from the text to examine and interpret events, procedures, ideas, or concepts from informational texts.
    • Some informational text will explain the causes and effects of certain events.
    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 4


    Cite evidence to explain the author’s perspective toward a topic in an informational text.

    Unpacked Content



    • Cite
    • Evidence
    • Author's perspective
    • Topic
    • Informational text


    • Authors of informational text have personal perspectives or viewpoints that are reflected in their writing.


    • Identify and explain an author's perspective toward a topic in informational text.
    • Provide textual evidence to support their explanation of the author's perspective.


    • Authors of informational text have views and opinions about the topics they write about, and their perspectives will be reflected within the text.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    The students will categorize types of informational texts according to author's purpose. 

    Activity Details

    1. The teacher will gather the students in a whole group setting. He/she will use the Author's Purpose for Informational Text PDF to introduce the concept of author's purpose. The teacher will introduce each category and explain what each means.
    2. The teacher will list each category (persuade, inform, explain, entertain, describe) on a whiteboard, interactive board, or on chart paper. As the teacher introduces and explains each category, the students will brainstorm types of text that they think belong in that category. Have students write their ideas on sticky notes and place them on the chart paper under each category.  
      1. To persuade means that the author is trying to get the reader to do something. Examples: magazine advertisements, TV commercials, songs, campaign speeches
      2. To inform means the author gives the reader information and teaches you facts. Examples: textbooks, nonfiction books/articles, dictionary, weather report, news stories
      3. To explain means that the author writes the steps that the reader will follow. Examples: descriptions of products we buy, recipes, how-to manuals for putting something together, ACAP directions
      4. To entertain means that the author is trying to get the reader to enjoy the text. Examples: fiction stories, comics, joke books, songs, fairy tales, poems, gossip magazine articles
      5. To describe means that the author uses some of the senses to describe an object. Examples: scary story that describes a haunted house, poem that describes what an object smells, sounds, looks like
    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    The teacher will monitor each student's brainstormed responses (on the sticky notes) to verify that they analyzed the concepts in various informational texts in order to categorize them correctly.



    For students that need an acceleration strategy, provide the same "bank" of examples. Challenge these students to think of examples that are not on the list and write them on blank notecards.


    For students that may be struggling with the concept of the categories, give specific examples and ask specific questions. For example: Student, why do you think someone would write a recipe? Answer: To give directions or to explain how to make a meal/food.

    The teacher will provide a "bank" of examples on notecards for extra practice for those who are struggling with this concept. The teacher can call these students to sit in a small group or one-on-one setting and have them categorize the notecards according to the author's purpose category. Have the Author's Purpose PDF pulled up for students to reference. 

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    0 to 15 Minutes

    Related Learning Activities

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    • Students should be familiar with classroom procedures for the group brainstorming activity.
    • Teacher should download the Author’s Purpose in Informational Text PDF and decide how to share PDF with students. The PDF can be shared on an interactive whiteboard/TV, printed as a hard copy for students, or printed on a poster.
    • Teacher should write the categories on a whiteboard or interactive board/TV or chart: persuade, inform, explain, entertain, describe. 

    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources

    Digital Tools / Resources