December 29, 2011

Author's Purpose (+ a vlog!)

Author's Purpose is one of those things that I think should be so gosh darn clear and easy, but that many of my kiddos still struggle with.  This year when I taught it, I added in some hand gestures and chants to help the ideas "stick" in their heads.  While my results still weren't 100% successful, the majority of my class really got it.  First, I started by telling a story about my crazy muddy trail (or any other humorous story).  Afterward, I asked the kids if I told them that story because I was trying to teach them something.  Hopefully they are all in agreement that no, that was not why I told it!  Then I ask if I was trying to convince them to think or do something.  Nope!  I share with them that I just told them that story because it was fun and I wanted to share it with them.  Then I share the author's purpose PIE anchor chart:
I keep it mostly blank at the beginning, and we add in different examples of each text as we discuss them.  Then, I teach the hand gestures for each purpose.  For that, I made this little video!  Okay, PUHLEASE don't make fun of me...I've never made a video for my blog before, but I couldn't think of any other way to share the hand gestures with you!  Here goes nothing...
I totally slipped into a "teacher voice" during that...I swear, it's involuntary.  Okay, you can stop laughing now.  Seriously.  I practice those gestures with the kids at least a couple times the first day and then throughout the week.  I heard once that in order to really cement something into the kids' long term memory, you have to review it once within 10 minutes, again within 24 hours, and again within 7 days.  10/24/7, MINIMUM.  Finally, after we've practiced the gestures, I share a bunch of articles I've pulled from kid-friendly magazines.  I'll just show it around, and then will read the beginning.  Kids will think about it, and then will respond with the gesture that matches the correct purpose.  After some practice with THAT, the kiddos break up into groups and work together to identify the purpose of another article.

After this introductory lesson, throughout the week in shared reading we read a variety of texts and, in addition to practicing other comprehension skills, work together to find the author's purpose.  

Do you use hand gestures to teach in your classroom?  I never did before this year, but our school is really working this year to boost engagement and hand gestures are an easy way to hook kids into lessons and then to help them really remember the content.

Any tips for teaching Author's Purpose?


  1. I think the hand gestures make sense esp. if everyone or almost everyone is using them.

  2. Hand gestures and sign language is one of my favorites to use in class as well as my students. They love to talk to me without actually "talking" and for me to respond back the same. It also requires a lot of focus of their part, which is a plus.

    As we learn different topics I teach a sign that goes with it and the students are thrilled! I see them making up their own too that goes along with something we're learning.

    I think it's great practice : )

  3. Love this! I think this would also work great with special education classrooms b/c those kidos are very visual!

  4. I have used hand gestures in the past and the kids loved them. I guess I have gotten away from them and need to return to them! Thanks for the great video! Well done! :)


  5. LOVE hand gestures. We do them for everything ... expectations, rules, organization of expository text, people and important facts from history, inference, etc.

  6. I love the hand gestures! Thanks so much. I have this page bookmarked and this is the second year I've used your ideas - with grades 3-6.


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