I don't know about your students, but mine have always stubbled with identifying the author's purpose for writing a text. The other week, we read the chapter, "The Extra-Good Sunday" from Ramona Quimby, Age 8. In this chapter, Ramona and Beezus have to make dinner for their parents as punishment for not eating their dinner the previous night. The chapter highlights their experiences in the kitchen as they try to come up with a concoction without correct ingredients or the use of recipes. When asked, the students had a difficult time identifying the author's purpose for writing this chapter. I was shocked! For me, it was obvious that this was a fiction text, but my students thought the author was trying to inform them how to cook. I grabbed some chart paper and jotted down some key details about each reason an author might have for writing a text. I formed these as questions so the students could ask themselves each question as they read. I also color-coded key words so they would stand out.
Two weeks later, my class is doing a better job at identifying the author's purpose and I definitely think these anchor charts are helping. Although they are not an example of my most creative work, they are serving their purpose. I have had other Author's Purpose references in my class in the past, but having them formed as questions seems to be working better than simply stating the difference between the three.
Do your students struggle with author's purpose as much as mine? What have you done to make them understand the differences?