Unraveling the Mystery of Author’s Purpose Questions: 4 Step Reading Strategy

Author’s purpose questions can be quite perplexing for students, often leaving them puzzled about why the author wrote a particular text or included certain details.

Today, we’ll navigate through author’s purpose questions using a four-step reading strategy that will demystify these queries and empower both you and your students.

Make sure to try out this strategy with your students. You can grab your own set of task cards here – 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, 6th-8th, or English I & II.

You can also watch me work through the problems in the video below.

How to Answer Author’s Purpose Questions

Decoding Author’s Purpose Questions:

Before we delve into our four-step strategy, it’s essential to understand what author’s purpose questions entail. These questions probe the reasons behind why the author wrote a text or chose to incorporate specific elements. Authors typically write to persuade, inform, entertain, explain, or describe – this can be summed up with the acronym “PIEED.”

Author's purpose poster - PIEED - great to use on author's purpose questions

The Four-Step Reading Strategy:

Now, let’s uncover the secret to mastering author’s purpose questions – the four-step reading strategy. This strategy breaks down the process and equips students to tackle these questions confidently. Here’s a quick overview:

4 step reading strategy poster

Step 1: Scan

Start by scanning the questions. Determine if the question is whole or part. Whole questions require information from the entire passage, while part questions focus on specific sections. Author’s purpose questions can be either whole or part. For example, “Why does the author choose to say the men were on alert?” is a part question, while “What is the author’s purpose?” is a whole question.

Step 1: Scan the questions for part or whole.

Step 2: Target the Text

Step two involves targeting the text. Understand the context, characters, problem, and solution in the passage. This step is akin to assembling the puzzle pieces to gain a comprehensive view. For instance, in our passage, characters include the time traveler and various observers. The problem revolves around the unknown nature of the “mechanism” on the table, and the solution is yet to unfold, creating an air of suspense.

Step 2: target the text

Step 3: Actively Read

In step three, actively read the passage with a focus on the setting, characters, problem, and solution. This step internalizes the information and prepares your mind to make inferences based on these elements. For our passage, the vivid description of the room and the actions of the characters are significant.

Step 3: Activity reading and answer setting, character, problem, and solution

Step 4: Respond

The final step is to respond to the questions. This is where you apply the insights gathered in the previous steps. Let’s explore this further with actual questions.

Question 2: What is the Author’s Purpose?

Step 4: Response - sample question 2

Question two asks, “What is the author’s purpose?” The answer choices are as follows:

a. To persuade b. To inform c. To entertain d. To explain e. To describe

We need to analyze the passage to decipher the author’s purpose. Our passage vividly describes the room and the interactions of the characters but doesn’t aim to persuade, inform, entertain, or explain. The emphasis is on creating a visual image that aligns perfectly with “e. To describe.” The author’s purpose is to paint a vivid picture.

Sample question 3

Question 3: What Text Evidence Supports the Author’s Purpose?

Question three relates directly to question two. It asks, “What text evidence helped you decide the author’s purpose?” This part of the question requires us to locate specific text evidence that supports the author’s purpose. In our passage, text evidence supporting the author’s purpose of describing can be found in phrases like “a glittering metallic framework,” “scarcely larger than a small clock,” and “the bright light of it.” All these descriptions aim to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.

Sample question 1

Question 1: Why Does the Author Choose to Say the Men Were on Alert?

Finally, we come to question one, “Why does the author choose to say the men were on alert?” This part of the question directs us to a specific section of the passage, which mentions, “We were all on the alert.” The answer choices are:

a. To describe the mood b. To demonstrate their personality c. To explain the audience d. To show the importance

Analyzing the passage, we can conclude that the author chose to say the men were on alert to “a. describe the mood.” The passage creates an atmosphere of anticipation and curiosity, making the choice of the term “on alert” suitable for conveying the mood.

Author’s purpose questions, once enigmatic, can now be tackled with confidence using our four-step reading strategy. This strategy helps students break down the text, understand the context, and identify the author’s purpose effectively. In practice, students become more adept at deciphering the underlying message and intention behind a text. Author’s purpose questions will transform from stumbling blocks to opportunities for students to demonstrate their comprehension skills.

For more practice on finding the author’s purpose, you can grab your own set of task cards here – 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, 6th-8th, or English I & II.

I hope you found this helpful, is so check out our post about the ever-challenging inferencing questions.

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