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For an educator it is the greatest reward to see your students interested in a lesson, engaged thoughtfully in their work, and demonstrating their knowledge. Recently, I taught a unit on author’s purpose to my second grade class at my student-teaching placement. I would like to share parts of that unit, students’ work, and my reflections with you.
During the author’s purpose unit in reading, students studied the reasons why authors write, researched authors that wrote with a specific purpose, learned how we can identify an author’s purpose, and how we can use author’s purpose to better comprehend a story. In writing, students practiced writing their own pieces with various purposes, studied word-choice and language used in texts with various purposes, connected this with music and how composers create music with specific purposes, then wrote and acted out scripts with specific purposes, and finally published a piece of their own writing with a chosen purpose, inspired by a piece of music.
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At the beginning of the unit, students were engaged with an activity in which the teachers talked about pie as they ate it. Each teacher talked about the pie in a different way: trying to convince students to eat the pie, teaching students facts about pie including ingredients and how to make it, and making students laugh while making the pie talk with a silly accent. The students then had a conversation about the three author’s purposes they would study: to persuade, to inform, and to entertain, while they researched various texts with different purposes.
Following the engagement activities, students experienced lessons on each purpose individually. Within these lessons, students read various texts and media sources with the specific purpose, identified texts with that purpose, and wrote their own pieces with that purpose.
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The following are a few pieces written by my students, can you guess if the purpose is to persuade, to inform or to entertain?
“Draw, Draw, Draw”
Drawing is a great art form. Picasso was an amazing artist who used shapes. When drawing, you can use shapes too. I use shapes, and my imagination. First, you choose what you want to draw. Then, you pick a design to make in your drawing to make your drawing look cool. You can pick color if you want to use it. I pick not to use color. Then you can add details. You can use crayons, markers, pencils and other tools to make your art. You will need a canvas or paper. Make your background, then, draw the figures in front.
“Meet the Meat”
M.E.A.T. Meat! You will love it!! When meat is cooked just right, the warm outside with a juicy center, will make your mouth water for more. If you haven’t tried meat yet, you definitely should! If you’re not sure you’ll like it, that’s okay. There are all kinds of meat, some for everyone. You can choose chicken or beef, or try something new and exciting like veal! There are so many kinds to choose from, and they are all part of a healthy, balanced diet! Try meat today, it’s the best!
Once upon a time, a girl got lost in a storm. Then there was a flash of lightening, BOOM! She jumped. The evil queen appeared. The queen blew in her face. Then, just like that, the queen was gone. It started to rain. Again, she heard BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! She got the chills up her spine. When she opened her eyes, she was back at home. It must have been the queen’s magic. The girl will never know.
Overall, my students really understood the concepts of author’s purpose, word choice and descriptive language, and fully investigated the essential question: Why do authors write? My students also far exceeded my expectations with their own writing. They demonstrated ways to show not tell in their writing by using descriptive language. Writing “She got chills up her spine,” rather then “She was scared.” Or, “His eyes filled with tears,” rather than “He felt sad.” Their use of word choice gave direct evidence of their understanding of author’s purpose and language to support it, and their ability to write with various purposes, and engage readers in their writing. I was so pleased that my students got to experience such an interactive, engaging unit and came out of it fully comprehending the literacy concepts and strategies.
I hope you enjoyed some ideas and reflections from my language arts unit and my students’ work!