What are students learning?

Reading Informational Text

Grade 2: English Language Arts

Inclusive Big Idea #6: Identify author’s purpose

Standard: Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe. RI.2.6

How could I teach this?

Think about how instructional strategies and activities can give students multiple ways to engage with learning. One way won’t work for all, so how can you remove and reduce barriers for all students?

  • Socratic Seminar: To encourage students to think more about the author’s purpose of the text, including what question the author is answering, explaining, or describing, teachers can model how to facilitate a Socratic Seminar. Before meeting with a small group or whole class, make a list of questions to ask about the author’s purpose. Throughout the seminar, the facilitator positions him/herself as a question-asker. Present the questions verbally and have them recorded on the board or on handouts so students can access them in multiple ways. Provide opportunities for students to use graphic organizers or other ways to record some of their ideas or to take notes as others are sharing. Students should have a free-flowing conversation with minimal interruptions from the facilitator. See this TIP Sheet for more information on Whole Group Discussions.
  • Think, Pair, Share: Ask students to think about and record their ideas individually about the author’s purpose. Then, they can meet with a peer to discuss and add to their answers. After they have had time to discuss with a peer they can share their thoughts with the rest of the class in flexible ways, such as verbally, using images, a recording, or other options. See this TIP Sheet for more information on Think, Pair, Share.
  • Discussion Webs: Add a question about the author’s purpose in the middle of a digital or paper-based web. Model how to draw lines extending from the web and ask students to provide responses to the question. For example, you may write “What was the author’s purpose in this report about volcanoes?” or have an image in the middle of the web. Then, on extended lines, students can work together or on their own to offer responses to the question. They could use images, text, or other ways of sharing ideas. They may respond with, “To teach us something,” “to help us better understand volcanoes,” “to warn us,” “to scare us,” etc.
  • Think Aloud: The purpose of asking students questions about texts is to get them into the habit of self-questioning as they read by themselves. To model this, read aloud or listen to an informational text of interest. Periodically, model how to stop and ask questions about the author’s purpose. These self-questioning questions can also be on a handout or written on the board in the room. As students read or listen to the text, model how to answer the questions and record ideas. See this TIP Sheet for more information on how to model using a Think Aloud.

Don’t stop here! Remember to reduce barriers for all students.

Make reducing barriers a process - take a few minutes to think about your process! Is there a barrier related to:

  • interest or engagement? Think about how to incorporate student’s lived experiences, culture, and interests… 
  • background knowledge? Think about how to highlight key ideas and define key vocabulary… 
  • showing what they know? Think about having options for how they use learning tools and technology to communicate…

For example, one possible barrier is the amount of information that a student needs to hold in mind.

Ideas to reduce this barrier could include:

  • be aware of how much sensory input occurs at once, perhaps offer the option to use headphones
  • show examples and provide answers to check along the way
  • provide templates or graphic organizers
  • allow use of spell checks and other tools 

Use these Inclusive Strategies to help reduce barriers.

Tell me more about this Inclusive Big Idea (I need a refresher)

Brush up on the content of this Inclusive Big Idea. It will help you and your colleagues to understand and teach this content better.

  • The Big Idea: Identify author’s purpose
  • Tell me more about… Author’s Purpose
    • Author’s Purpose is the reason an author writes something. Sometimes, the purpose affects the content and the way an author crafts their writing. Typically, authors write to entertain, inform, or persuade.
    • An author writes for many reasons. An author may give you facts or true information about a subject. If so, they are writing to inform. Some authors write fiction stories or stories that are not true. They write these stories to entertain you. Other authors may write to persuade or to try to get you to do something.
    • Author’s Purpose: To Entertain
      • The book is fiction
      • It tells a story
      • It usually makes the reader laugh
      • It does not include real information
    • Sample Passage:
      • One day, a beautiful princess was walking down the street hoping to find her prince. She looked high and low and finally gave up. On her way home, she found a lonely little frog. She picked him up and began to talk to him, telling him all her problems. When she was done, she said goodbye to the frog and gave him a kiss on top of his head. Before her very eyes appeared the man of her dreams and they lived happily ever after.
    • Author’s Purpose: To Inform
      • Gives the reader real information
      • May include text features such as diagrams, cutaways, and photographs
      • May include definitions
      • May be procedural and tell the reader how to do something
    • Sample Passage:
      • To make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich you must first get your items together. You will need bread, peanut butter, jelly, and a knife. First, get out the two pieces of bread. Then, with your knife, spread on some peanut butter and jelly. Put the two slices of bread together and enjoy your sandwich. You might want a nice glass of milk too.
    • Author’s Purpose: To Persuade
      • Tries to convince the reader to do something or think a certain way
      • Gives facts and opinions
      • May include statistics and information from an expert
      • Tells how the author feels about the subject
    • Sample Passage:
      • Every child should play a sport. When you are on a team, you learn to get along with everyone and work together for a common goal. Teamwork is the best lesson anyone can learn. This is why I believe every child should be on a team.


Looking for more suggestions? Target student common misconceptions, build on interdisciplinary links, and implement strategies and supports across multiple lessons or units.

Common Student Misconceptions

  • Determining Author’s Purpose: Until students are familiar with the key words and structures associated with the different purposes, students may struggle to determine the author’s purpose. Provide a variety of examples for each purpose and model finding the key words and other text features that support determining an author’s purpose in a text.
  • Social Studies: Students can view historic speeches to determine the purpose of the author/speaker.

Everyday Connections

  • On TV: Have students watch different news programs and advertisements and have them determine the author’s purpose for each.

Explore other Inclusive Big Ideas to think about the content you are teaching. How can you connect what you are teaching now to what has been taught before or what will be taught in the future?

Other TIES resources:

Inclusive Big Ideas: Standards-based resources for inclusive classrooms | TIES Center

The Inclusive Big Ideas were adapted from resources created by the NCSC Project , a federal grant from the US Department of Education (PR/Award #: H373X100002), However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.

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