Saturday, February 26, 2011

Reading Application: Author’s Purpose, Perspective, & Bias

A "MacBook" moment. 2010
What would you do if you were stuck in class, during a district wide lockdown for hours without any access to technology?

On Wednesday, November 10th, 2010, my 9th grade class spontaneously started to read "Homeboyz" by Alan Lawrence Sitomer and other great reads such as L. Divine's "Drama High" and one student read Tom Clancy's "Acts of War"!

I hear all the time how much students HATE to read but what they are really saying is "I'm bored!"  When students choose their own literature, they enjoy discussing the events in the story and analyzing the plot.  They have DEEPER, more meaningful conversations about what they are reading because they connect with the text. , As one student stated "I love this book because it's real.  It talks about my life!"

Working on the Work
This page focuses on Category 2 on the NEW FCAT 2.0; Reading Applications.  Five benchmarks are covered in this category. (See chart on the below).

Understanding Benchmark LA.910.1.7.2

Benchmark: The student will analyze the author's purpose and/or perspective in a variety of text and understand how it affects meaning. The content focus for this benchmark is...
I like to refer to this skill set as "walking a mile in someone else's shoes".       A task, that according to most researchers, the teenage brain may not be developmentally ready to fully implement.
But don't worry.

The ability to see things from not just one's own perspective, but that of someone else's is a "developmental skill." The good news is that the brain CHANGES ITSELF in response to experiences. In other words, experience is the key to success. (Practice makes perfect).  

Fact Sheets

A.  Author's Purpose (within and across texts)

Think "PIED" ...   

P  to persuade

I  - to inform or 
          to instruct 
E - to entertain

Pre/Post Tests
 Skills Practice
Videos (Highly Recommended!)

Sample Item 13: Author's Purpose (LA.910.1.7.2)

Read this sentence from the essay.

And the fish, whether six inches or ten, were praised like precious stones.

The author uses this comparison to

  A. reveal the assorted colors of fish.
  B. describe the various sizes of fish.
√C. show the client’s appreciation for each catch.
  D. focus on the client’s preference for material goods.
Grade 9 Sample from “A Day in the Stream”, page G–2.

Explanation: The correct answer is choice C.  The passage states that "the fish...were praised like precious stones." to "appreciate" means to "value something or someone very highly" and "precious" means "valuable" in this sentence. The fish were highly valued, like valuable stones.

Sample Item 15: Author's Purpose (LA.910.1.7.2)

What was the author’s purpose in writing this essay?

  A. to relate an outdoor walking experience
√B. to emphasize the importance of observing nature
  C. to describe some of the changes that occur in nature
  D. to illustrate the interdependence among plants and animals
Grade 10 Sample from on “Walking” by Linda Hogan, page G–12.

Explanation: The correct answer is B.  The main reason why an author writes a nonfiction passage is to inform. In Walking, the author's goal is to enlighten the reader about a real topic and facts are used to teach, not to persuade.

B.  Author's Perspective (within/across texts)

Sample Item 16: Author's Perspective  (LA.910.1.7.2)

The author of this article would most likely make the statement that mountains must

  A. move with Earth’s crust.
  B. crumble when faults occur.
√C. yield to the forces of nature.
  D. sink under their own weight.
(From “Cutting Off the World’s Roof ”page G–18)

Explanation: The correct answer is C. By previewing/surveying the text, the reader will immediately see that in italics, the author makes the following statement "The mighty Himalaya would be higher were it not for a buzz saw made of ice." Then, as the reader scans the text, he/she should notice that the author then presents the reader with three different theories that attempt to explain "why there are so few really tall mountain ranges on Earth, and why the ones we have aren’t even taller".  Choices A, B and D represent the three different theories. Only choice C gives the most general answer.

Test Yourself! Point of View
Viewpoint The perception, thought, and emotion (perspective) from which the reader experiences the action of the story.

Point of View (POV) determines whose perceptions (sight, hearing, and the rest of the senses), whose thoughts, who's emotions, you get as you read the passage. 

Highly Recommended

*Narration is the way the action of the story is told, whether its from...
  1. 1st  Person POV (I, me, my, we, our) 
  2. 2nd Person POV (You, yours, your, yourself) 
  3. 3rd Person POV  (Narrator only describes & does not enter the character's thoughts)
  4.  3rd Person Limited Omniscient (narrator can see into ONE character's mind)   
  5.  3rd person Omniscient (All knowing. The narrator can see into the minds of all characters)

Introspection (omniscient POV) includes the thoughts and feelings of the characters.  This deepens the reader's understanding of the human consequences of the plot and individualizes the story because only this character would have this specific internal response.

Voice is the diction, style, and attitude of the narration.  Sometimes only the author's voice isdisplayed in the narrative, but often the narrating character's own voice comes out.

13 Questions That Explore Author's Viewpoint
  1. Is the writer's point of view objective or subjective?
  2. How does the writer interpret this issue?
  3. What comments does he make?
  4. What judgments does he make?
  5. Is his argument logical or does it appeal to the emotions? 
  6. What opinions or belief statements are evident in the article?
  7. Why do you think the author has this particular opinion or point of view?
  8. What background information about the author does the reader have that may help understand the writer’s point of view? (Point of reference) Would another author have a different point of view depending on his/her background experiences?
  9. What pictures does the author paint for a reader?
  10. What evidence did the author include to support their opinions?
  11. What facts were missing?
  12. What words and phrases did the author use to present the information? (Students collect samples of the language an author uses to identify the context in which ideas are presented.)
  13. Why did the author write this selection? (Identifying the author’s purpose helps students recognize possible viewpoints, especially in persuasive writing.) 
Note-Taking Strategy: Deepen Your Understanding of Author's Viewpoint

1. Divide the front and back of a page into 4 squares.

2. On the left of each square, write one of the following terms and a brief definition: Point of View, First Person POV, Third Person Limited POV, and Third Person Omniscient. 

3. In the square across from each term, draw a picture, cartoon, or an icon to represent each term. 

The drawings should help you to visualize and remember what each term means.

More POV Building Activities

PBS Kids Game: Point Out the View (Cross-curricular) Big Idea: Because what you see depends on your point of view, different people looking at the same objects can see them differently and disagree about what they are seeing.

Extension Activities (Teachers and Advanced students)
C.  Author's Bias (within/across texts)
Writers often try to persuade their readers to accept a certain viewpoint by presenting facts and opinions. The reader must analyze the reasoning that the author uses in support of his/her point of view.

Read carefully to detect evidence of bias or weakness in the author's arguments:
  • generalizations or exaggerations
  • loaded (emotionally charged) words/images
  • opinions stated as facts
The same criteria can be used to evaluate other media: television news reports, movies, current events programs, Internet web sites, public speakers.

Sample Item 14: Author’s Bias (LA.910.1.7.2)

Which statement from the essay reveals the author’s initial bias toward her client?

√A. “Typical beginner, I thought.”
  B. “First, I turned his reel around.”
  C. “He looked like a model for an outdoor catalogue.”
  D. “The felt on his wading boots was as white as snow.”
 (From “A Day in the Stream”, Grade 9)
Sample Item 17: Author’s Bias (LA.910.1.7.2)
Read this excerpt from the section USING THE CALENDAR.

The calendar in your Quest-4 cell phone is a convenient way to keep track of important reminders; tasks that need to be completed; people who must be called; and special events such as concerts, ball games, graduations, and vacations.  Your Quest-4 cell phone will hold up to 300 calendar entries.

In this excerpt, the author’s information displays a bias against all the following groups EXCEPT

√A. busy young adults who participate in many activities.
  B. retired adults who get involved in very few volunteer activities.
  C. single adults who relocate to another city where they have no family
      or friends.
  D. dedicated young adults who spend most of their time working alone
       on a research project.
(From  “Quest-4 Cell Phone––User Manual”, Grade 10)

Questions that Evaluate Author's Bias
  1. What is the author's purpose?
  2. What are the author's arguments in support of his/her viewpoint?
  3. Are generalizations or exaggerations used? Give evidence from the source.
  4. Are any opinions stated as facts? Give evidence from the source.
  5. Are emotionally "loaded" words/images used? Give evidence.
  6. Does the author's bias weaken his/her arguments? Explain.
  7. Describe how you were able to identify the author's point of view. 

 More Learning Activities for Deeper Understanding on "Bias"

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