At a staff meeting about five years back, our principal had us look at the previous year's test results, identify one or two areas of weakness, and then write a plan of action for improving that weak strand. Well, my colleagues and I recognized that Author's Purpose was a weak area for our third and fourth graders that year. We wrote what we thought was a fabulous plan to help our students to better understand the concept of Author's Purpose... and thus be better equipped to score higher in that area on the annual standardized tests. Our plan even included placement of a huge "pie" in the central part of the hallway where each class wrote the titles of books they had read that fit into each category!
As teachers, our confidence soared as State Assessment time approached! (You know what's coming...) Well, assessment time arrived, and as an ESL teacher, I was providing the accommodations of reading the test questions aloud to limited-English proficient students. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach as I read various questions related to Author's Purpose. I realized that the test authors did not limit the answer choices to persuade, inform, and entertain. Rather, I saw answer choices that included words like explain, describe, and occasionally even illustrate.
Furthermore, I realized that sometimes, the test authors required students to differentiate the main idea. For example, answer choices might include:
A. To inform the reader about the formations found in caves
B. To describe the formations in a cave
C. To entertain readers with a story about a cave
D. To inform the reader about how caves are formed
It was then that I set out to do more than just teach the basic PIE method for Author's Purpose! I found the PIE'ED method online, and from there created several materials to support that method.
What is the PIE'ED method of Author's Purpose?
P-persuade (to convince the reader of something)
I-inform (to provide the reader with information)
E- entertain (to provide a story readers will enjoy - it can be sad, scary, or happy, and often includes dialogue)
E-explain (to give the reader directions)