Teaching Perspective, Author’s Intent, & Critical Reading in Nonfiction Text Sets
Maggie Beattie Roberts, Staff Developer & Literacy Consultant
The Reading and Writing Project, Teachers College
→ Link to blog series on Nonfiction Reading & Point of View, Author’s Intent, and Critical Reading (www.kateandmaggie.com)
Strategies for Teaching Determining the Point of View of Nonfiction
Here are some starter strategies to use when exploring point of view of nonfiction:
Language Prompts for Determining the Point of View of Nonfiction
Here are some language prompts to use when exploring point of view of nonfiction:
Strategies for Author’s Intent
Here are some starter strategies to use when exploring author’s intent:
● Readers read to find out what the author is making us feel, and how. We pay attention to how we feel after reading a text. Then, we step back and ask ourselves, “How did the author get me to feel this way?”
● Readers investigate an author’s intent by paying close attention to words and phrases the author uses. We then use this information to step back and think, “Why is the author using those words and phrases? What is her or his plan?”
● Readers examine an author’s intent by looking at the information he or she includes, and thinking about the information he or she has left out. What is included or excluded can lead readers to figuring out what the author is trying to do with his or her writing.
● Readers can examine an author’s intent by analyzing the inclusion of text-features, such as illustrations, photographs, charts, and graphs, to determine how these features make readers feel or what charts/graphs are designed to show.
● Readers pay attention to who an author cites as an “expert” or “source of knowledge” on the topic.
● Readers notice when words or certain phrases are repeated throughout a text. They try to put those words and/or phrases into a larger category to see what an author’s intention might be centered around.
Language Prompts for Author’s Intent
Here are some language prompts to use when exploring author’s intent:
● This is making me feel…because…
● The author uses the word(s) _____ because…This makes me think he or she is trying to…
● The author doesn’t include… This makes me wonder if…
● Because the author is part of _______________________ organization, his/her intent must be to ________________________.
● I noticed that the author repeatedly uses_____________ (phrases, theme, setting, etc.) and that makes me realize that the author is trying to show/teach me about ________...
● The author wants me to know (or do) ...
● I think these images fit/don't fit with the text because ...
● I think the author is trying to persuade me to think/do ... because they he or she says/does ... in the text.
Strategies for Critical Reading
Here are some starter strategies to use when exploring critical reading:
● Readers think carefully about the intended audience of the piece of writing. We can ask, “Who is this text written for? Who will most likely read this text? Who is the audience?” Then, we think of talk about how the audience may have influenced the writing.
● Readers think or talk about how a text makes them feel. Does it make you feel like an insider – like you know what this is like or an outsider – like you don’t know what this is like?
● Readers keep track of the voices heard in the text and the voices not heard in the text. Listen for the sides you hear – this can help you understand which side has more power in a text.
● Readers read closely to notice information authors assume they already know about a topic. They will stop and consider whether there is missing information they may need in order to understand the message the author is intending to convey.
● Readers notice how a text is trying to ‘position them’-- that is, ‘what is this text trying to get me to think? And do I agree with that?’
● Readers read across a single text (or across multiple texts) with a critical eye, looking for both disagreement and consensus on a topic.
Language Prompts for Critical Reading
Here are some language prompts to use when exploring critical reading:
● This text is most likely written for... I can tell because...
● I hear _____ the most in this text because…
● I hear _______ the least in this text because.........
● In listening to the voices, I hear language …......... that supports the position that....... has power.
● In listening to the voices, I hear language......... that supports the position that..........has little control/power.
● The topic of the text is saying ........but as I am reading, I'm hearing........
● I am mostly reading this text as an insider and it helps me understand........This helps me understand the text with deeper complexity because......
● I am mostly reading this text as an outsider and it helps me understand......This helps me understand the text with deeper complexity because........
● The reason I feel like an insider/outsider when reading this text is because of...