Saturday, February 15, 2014

Time to Pass It On! Author's Purpose is as Easy as Pie!

I'm back!  It's been a hot or perhaps cold minute since I last shared something that went on in my classroom.  I was gone for 2 days to attend the AAGT (Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented) local conference last week...more to come on that in a future blog post... we had our last field trip of the year a couple days before that, and we just finished up spring (why don't they call them winter?) conferences and two-half days.  Needless to say, it has been all about catching up or in my case, not catching up!  Our 3rd quarter benchmark testing is coming up in 2 weeks.  Two weeks?!  Where did the time go?

Author's Purpose is one of those skills that most students catch on to fairly quickly, but only when you lay down the foundation to help them locate those key words and main idea.  When I taught 4th grade, I remember buying the PIE poster from Really Good Stuff...don't lie, you probably did too and perhaps even still have it.  See?!  Since then, I have sort of evolved in my teachings of Author's Purpose and once I started teaching 5th grade 6 years ago I had to add on nonfiction purposes.  I smartened up and stopped buying posters and making them instead.  But pie still carries on in my classroom!  Here's hoping these two tried and true products I found on Teachers Pay Teachers will help other teachers out there...enjoy!

Our goal was, "I can understand why an author wrote a passage by identifying the author's main purpose." We do discuss our goal at the beginning of each lesson, highlight the key parts, and students check their level of (pre)understanding...and we recheck it at the end of the lesson.

So, what I was trying to say earlier is I didn't have to focus too much on main idea when starting on Author's Purpose with my kids this past week and I was able to jump right into modeling some evidence finding through think-alouds.  From there it was all about giving my class opportunities to practice reading text and identifying those 5 different purposes.

We started with our vocabulary and introduction to the 5 purposes using our anchor chart and partner discussions.  My kids copied down the chart in their notebooks as we went along.  Whenever I teach vocabulary in a lesson like this, we use a whole lot of discussing in between me throwing phrases and words at them so they don't get ultra bored.

Last year, I started using one of my favorite craftivities on Teachers Pay Teachers...because my students react so well to it.  They love doing a quick color and cut to get away from the monotony of learning vocabulary and front-loading.  This is one of Deb Hanson's awesome products and you can find it HERE.

I sort of redid my thinking on how to use this product this school year.  Last year, if I recall, I modeled using one or maybe two of the short passages and the kids practiced the rest with a partner.  But, I wanted to really make sure my kids had a grasp on how to find and use evidence directly from the text (something my kids keep having issues with).  So, I instead used think-alouds for each passage.  My students highlighted as I did so on our ActivBoard.  Once I gave them the evidence, they chatted with each other to figure out which genre (fiction or nonfiction) the passage fell under.  When they have that BIG piece of information, it is much easier to narrow down the purposes.  Then, I had them turn to their shoulder partners to discuss how the evidence I highlighted pointed to TWO author's purposes. Together, we figured out which of the two was the main purpose through a nice little thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote.  

The key to this skill in our classroom was giving my students the chance to read passage after passage to practice identifying the author's main purpose.  But no one and I mean NO ONE wants to just do something that dry over and over again.  Thankfully, a teammate found the perfect FREE product on Teachers Pay Teachers for us to use.  It comes with 22 passages and is meant to be more of a test prep activity with multiple choice answers for each one. Find this free product from Mr. Stadalman HERE. The idea is, cut up each passage and place them around the room on students' desks so they can move around to read and answer each question.  

I loved seeing some of my students carrying their PIE'ED craftivity around with them in order to check their understanding.  See?!  This product is one of my favorites!  

During the hour or so my students were working on the passages, the room was so insanely quiet (which is practically unheard of in my room this year)!  I was in awe at how intensely focused all of my students were.  And when we came back together to go over a few of them?  They all were confident in their answers and provided concrete evidence perfectly.  It was one of those a-ha moments you crave for in your classroom.  Yeah!!  

So, in summary...get over to Teachers Pay Teachers and buy or download both of these products!  HERE and HERE