Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Determining What the Author's Purpose REALLY Is [During]

Subject Area

English Language Arts




"Be an Inventor" is an interactive slideshow that students will use to read and determine the author's purpose for writing in various informational texts. Students will use text features, such as timelines and highlighting, to cite evidence to explain the author's perspective towards the topic. 

This learning activity was created as 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 analyze various informational texts, determine the author's purpose for writing, and cite evidence to support their answer. 

    Activity Details

    1. The teacher will provide the students with the URL to the "Be an Inventor" slides via the chosen learning platform (Schoology, Google Classroom, etc).

    2. The students will access the URL and click on "Launch." The teacher will access the "Be an Inventor" presentation and show it on a screen or interactive TV. 

    3. Once everyone has accessed the URL and pulled up the presentation, the teacher will read the overview aloud and have students read along. 

    4. The teacher and the students will follow along with the slides on the "Be an Inventor" presentation.

    a) The teacher will show the video provided on the 3rd slide. Do not have the students click on this link. Show the video on a projector or interactive TV. 

    b) On slide 4, have students choose their Lexile/reading level. This should have been provided to students before the lesson. Students will click on the owl to choose their correct level. Clicking on the levels does not work. 

    c) On slide 5, the students will spend time reading their passage about Thomas Edison. The students will click "continue" at the top of the slide when they are done reading the passage. 

    d) Have the students signal when they are done reading and have clicked continue. 

    e) Explain to students that they will go back and read the passage a second time, and this time, they will highlight words and phrases that they think help them determine why the author wrote the passage. Remind students that the author's purpose is the reason he/she wrote something. 

    f) The students will read their passage (by clicking on the owl) and use the highlight feature to highlight words and phrases and sentences that help them figure out why the author wrote the passage about Thomas Edison. The students will click on "Highlight It" and then use the mouse to highlight words. They will then click on the yellow highlighter button at the top of the passage to begin highlighting. Make sure students know they can click the "undo" button if they highlight the wrong thing. The teacher will give the students time to complete this activity. 

    g) When the student is done highlighting, he or she will click "Submit" on the right side of the slide. The teacher will give the students time to complete this activity. 

    h) The student will then use the box at the bottom of the slide, and type an answer in the box to tell why they think the author wrote the passage about Thomas Edison. The teacher will give the students time to complete this activity. 

    i) The teacher and students will proceed through the slideshow. 

    j) Give students a few minutes to explore slides 9 and 10. Students will look at the wall of inventors and see if they can guess what items they invented. 

    k) On slide 11, have students study the timeline. Have students pick their favorite invention and tell a partner why it's their favorite. 

    l) Guide students in answering the questions on slide 12 and have them write their answers on a piece of paper or sticky note. Have them check their answers on slide 13.

    m) On slide 14, have students try to answer the question. They can then click on the answer to see if they got it correct. 

    n) Read slide 15 together and then point out inventions on the timeline below the passage. On slide 16, read each question aloud and have students try to answer them. Remind students they can refer back to slide 15 for help.  

    o) Show students the video on slide 17. They do not need to watch this video on their computers.

    p) On slide 19, test students' memories and see if they can remember what each person invented. Answers can be checked on slide 20.

    q) Students will complete the activity on slide 21 by clicking "Visualize It" and creating a picture of themselves and naming something they would like to invent. 

    r) Allow students time to watch the videos on the remaining slides (22-28) to learn more about these inventors. 

    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    1) The teacher will have students click on "My Work" so that the teacher can see the results of the work the students have submitted for slide 8 on the slideshow. The results will be indicative of whether or not students can determine why the author wrote the passage about Thomas Edison - to inform readers about his many inventions. 

    2) The teacher will informally assess by having students hold up 1 (a), 2 (b), or 3 (c) fingers to indicate their answers determining the author's purpose on passages on slides 16 and 18 of the slideshow. 



    Provide students with a stack of nonfiction books with a variation of the author's purpose. Provide students with an Author's Purpose Scavenger Hunt activity page. Students will choose a book to read and then complete one column of the activity sheet. If students have more time, they can choose multiple books and complete multiple columns.  


    Provide students with an author's purpose checklist as they work through the activity. This will provide them with clues/hints about what to look for. 

    Variation Tips

    - Students could click on "print" on their submission for slide 8 and could save their answers as a PDF on their computers. This could be emailed to the teacher or printed for a more concrete, hard copy of their answers. 

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    31 to 45 Minutes

    Related Learning Activities

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    -The teacher will need to post the URL on a learning platform for students to access. 

    - The teacher will need to have the presentation pulled up for students' viewing (on a projector screen or interactive TV).

    - The teacher will need to know which Lexile and/or reading level each student will need to choose on slide 4. (Blue - 500-575/2.7-3.2; orange - 600-650/3.3-3.7; Pink - 655-775/3.8-4.7) 

    - The teacher will need to provide students with their Lexile level prior to beginning the lesson. This could be done by writing each student's level on a sticky note and placing it on his/her desk or by placing a colored sticky note or sticker dot on the student's desk/computer. 

    - The students should have basic computer navigation skills in order to engage in the interactive slideshow. The students should be familiar with informational texts and how to locate the author's purpose. 

    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources

    - Have the Author's Purpose Checklist and the Author's Purpose Scavenger Hunt Activity pages printed for intervention and acceleration purposes.

    - The teacher will need a stack of books for the accelerated activity, preferably several nonfiction books that either inform, explain, or describe. Some ideas include the History Smashers Series, Crying Is Like the Rain, A Tree Is a Plant, From Seed to Plant, How to Babysit Grandpa, How to Build a House, How to Read a Book, In November, Owl Moon, Come On, Rain. 

    -Students will need a digital device with internet access.

    Digital Tools / Resources