Lesson Plan

Deciphering Author's Choice

The students will participate in a series of introductory activities that assist with understanding author's choice and intention in a given piece of text.
Tanishia W.
School district administrator
District 79, NYC DOE
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My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts

Students will be able to analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise. The student will be able to:

  • identify the author's structure and key words that make up the author's purposeful use of language
  • identify key ideas and details within a given text 
  • identify author's use of complexity as pertaining to character development 
English Language Arts
Grades 9 – 10
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook: Why the DICKENS did he use so many words?

Overarching Question: What does the legacy of the word Dickensian teach us about the impact of his writing?

Quick Summary: Using a variety of different reading samples from Dickens (pre-sorted by student reading level and interest), students will review the provided passages for any examples that might support the creation of the word "Dickensian." 

  • Provide students with Dickens text
  • Allow students a few moments to review the text for uses of words, phrases or structures that could be indicative or characteristic of the author (advanced students can compare and contrast more than one sample) 
  • Provide students with time to review their findings with each other and share with the group 


2 Direct Instruction: But why did the author use THOSE words?

Activity: Investigating

Overarching Question: What connections can you make between the author's intent or purpose and the words that the author used in the piece? 

Quick Summary: Given samples from an author with which the students are already familiar and an overtly articulated author's purpose, the students will engage in finding text based support that reinforces the author's purpose. The students can use specific words, structures, historical references or any other literary devices to substantiate author's purpose. 

  • Teacher: Begin with a quick review of the author and the author's purpose in the text 
  • Teacher: Provide an example of purposeful word choice which reinforces an author's purpose 
  • Teacher: Using the same text with all the students (at an adjusted grade level), have student identify words, structures and devices which reinforce the author's purpose 


3 Guided Practice: How do you know the author's purpose? What words give it away?

Overarching Question: How do you know which words were purposefully used to convey a point or message?

Quick Summary: Students will engage in a series of activities where they identify a purpose, feeling or emotion that the author intended to evoke and then support that feeling with a series of words and phrases from the text.  For example, if the author wanted the audience to feel empathy, the students would list the words and phrases used to lead the audience to empathy. 

  • This activity may be done in stations or differentiated groupings
  • The students can work collaboratively while the teacher moves around the room
  • The students can script answers out on chart paper and create an author's purpose gallery displaying a variety of words and phrases from the text 
  • The students can use the words and phrases from the text to create "flashcards" and quiz their peers.  The peer would read the example of words or phrases and have to guess the author's intent 
  • The students can work in two different teams to attempt to challenge the other groups with words and phrases 


4 Independent Practice: How do YOU know what the author's intent was?

Overarching Question: How do you know the author wrote it?

Quick Summary: Using current musicians, the students will choose a series of songs (not all on the same album) and identify themes, words or phrases that are indicative of the artist. For example, if a student chooses Beyonce, he would have to choose up to 5 Beyonce songs from different albums and choose words or phrases that are indicative of Beyonce.  Students should be encouraged to also use inferences from the artists' lives and historical backgrounds (i.e. Beyonce's references to Houston, TX) to prove their points as well. 

  • Students will begin this work in class 
  • Students will have to identify structures, words or phrases that are frequently used by artists in their song lyrics (despite the original author, artists frequently take steps to make the song their own)
  • Students will then create hints, cue cards or flashcards with the phrases and pneumonics and test their classmates in an upcoming class.
  • Students will organize all of their materials in a presentation format  


5 Wrap Up: How would you be able to prove an author's purpose?

Quick Summary: Students will work collaboratively to create a check list of ways to discern an author's purpose.