Hermeneutics: Teaching Students Author's Purpose
Students analyze a piece of literature with the author's perspective in mind.
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation. It is included in this unit because it is important for students to learn how to examine the sources. This lesson gives the teacher an opportunity to guide the students through such examination with light literature. Students then can move onto determining the author's purpose in writing.
- Utilize the Internet to learn about an author
- Infer the meaning of a poem
- Determine an author's purpose
- Analyze a piece of writing based on the authorship of the work
- Copies of Ryszard Kapuscinski's untitled poem
- Internet access to learn how to gain author information
Set Up and Prepare
- Make copies of Ryszard Kapuscinski's untitled poem
- Obtain Internet access to learn how to gain author information
Step 1: Write the word "perspective" on the board. (Have the definition ready if it needs to be explicitly taught.) Create a web to define the word.
Step 2: In small groups or pairs, have the students discuss the following questions, one at a time:
- Why might two different people give different versions of an event?
- What effect does the author's perspective have on a piece of writing?
- Why is it important to know the background of an author?
Give the groups one question to discuss. While the students are sharing, walk around and take anecdotal notes on student responses so you know who you will want to call on to share out loud. Then, strategically call on students to share out responses to the question.
Repeat this process with each of the questions.
Step 3: Pass out copies of the poem. Have the students read the poem silently, circling any words that they find interesting.
Step 4: Read the poem out loud to the students. Discuss the "interesting words."
Day 2 (In the computer lab)
Step 1: Explain to the students that the poem we read yesterday was written about the Holocaust. Knowing the background of the author can help readers determine the author's purpose.
Step 2: Write Ryszard Kapuscinski's name on the board. Read the poem out loud to the students. Have students do a search of his name to answer the questions:
- What can you find out about Ryszard Kapuscinski?
- Why would he write a poem about the Holocaust?
Step 3: Students should take notes answering the two questions.
Step 4: Students should get together in small groups and discuss their findings.
Step 5: Representatives from each group should share what was found while the teacher records on chart paper.
Step 1: Individually, students should reread the poem. After they have read the poem they should write an answer to the question, "What would you title the poem?"
Step 2: Students should reread the poem and answer, "Why do you think the author wrote this poem?"
Step 3: Students should reread the poem and answer, "What is his message?" (What does the poem mean?)
Step 4: Students should reread the poem and answer, "How does the poem make you feel?"
Step 5: Students should reread the poem and answer, "Do you agree or disagree with what the author is saying?"
Supporting All Learners
On day 3, pulling your struggling writers and doing the lesson with them as a shared writing experience will allow the focus for those students to remain on their ideas rather than their writing ability.
Complete a similar lesson with stories that are written from varied perspectives (editorials, same stories from different newspapers)
Have the students share the poem with their older family members. Have them answer the questions:
What would you title the poem?
How does the poem make you feel?
Students gather information about Ryszard Kapuscinski from the Internet. Students respond in writing to Ryszard Kapuscinski's poem.
- What worked well?
- What would you do differently next time?
- What were the students able to do well?
- What did the students struggle with during the lesson?
Save your anecdotal records. If you provide a rubric for day 3, share it with the students at the beginning of that class period.