When you teach a text, how much time do you spend focusing on author's purpose? I'm willing to bet that you spend more time focusing on what is in the text (characters, setting, plot) than what went into creating the text. Now think about your students' writing. How could it be improved? Is there a clear voice or tone established?
Author's purpose is vital in understanding writer's craft. The most common reasons that people create a text are:
- to persuade
- to inform
- to entertain
- to explain or to teach
Once a student can identify author's purpose, they can delve into how text creators fulfill that purpose. How does he persuade the audience? What tools does she use to entertain you? Using texts that you are using in class as mentor texts allows students to see examples of strong writing techniques and to analyze these techniques. This makes it easier for them to apply these elements to their own writing.
So when your students are reading a text, tell them to ask themselves the following:
- Why was this text created?
- By whom?
- What techniques are used to attract my attention?
- How is the text put together?
Once students can answer these questions about mentor texts, tell them to apply this to their own writing:
- Why am I writing this text?
- What biases might I bring to my writing?
- What techniques can I use to fulfill my purpose?
- What is the most effective way for me to put this text together?
Food for thought... how do you teach author's purpose?