Lesson Plan: Identifying an Author's Purpose
Student Resource: "Research
Shows TV PSAs Effective In Reducing Teen Marijuana Use"
Media Type: Research Report
After completing this lesson, students will be able to:
- Explain the risks of using marijuana or any other illegal
substance for recreational purposes.
- Describe factors that lead some teens to experiment with
drugs and other harmful substances.
- Apply the reading skill of identifying an author's purpose
to a research report detailing a strategy for reducing teen
Introducing the Lesson
Download and display photos of well-known daredevils (e.g.,
Evel Knievel and his son Robbie, both of whom have risked
their lives doing highly dangerous motorcycle stunts). Discuss
with students the notion of daredevils. Ask students to speculate
on what makes some people take extreme risks. (Possible responses
might include a desire for attention and a feeling of invincibility.)
Note that a group of researchers at the University of Kentucky,
seeking an answer to this same question, recently came up
with a new theory. According to this theory, extreme behavior
is the result of a personality trait called "sensation
seeking." Add that this personality trait has been linked
to people who engage in another potentially deadly risk: marijuana
Point out that every author has a reason, or purpose,
for writing. Sometimes the purpose is to persuade, other times
to inform, still others to entertain or delight. Observe that
in order to make the most of a reading passage, it is important
at the outset to identify the author's purpose.
Distribute copies of the study report. Ask students to:
- Read the headline silently.
- Skim the article briefly to get a sense of what it's about,
paying special attention to abundance of statistical numbers.
Note that these steps provide clues to the author's purpose:
to provide information. Urge students to be on the alert as
they read for what specific information the author is giving.
Suggest that they take notes as they read.
*After students have completed the reading, you may use the
following either as class discussion questions or assign them
as individual or group work.
- Summarizing. State in your own words what information
the author of this report provides about: (a) PSAs targeted
at teens and (b) SENTAR.
- Evaluating. The article quotes a number of statistics
from NIDA's Monitoring the Future study about teen marijuana
use. Which of these statistics do you find to be the most
alarming? Support your answer with information from your
health text on the risks associated with marijuana use.
- Synthesizing. The report analyzes one reason why
some teens use marijuana and other harmful substances. What
are some other factors that lead teens to experiment with
- Analyzing. Would you agree that the PSAs aimed
at sensation-seeking teens have been successful? Why or
why not? Can you name other strategies that you think would
be effective at reaching people your age?
Writing Your Own PSA
Combine your thoughts and ideas from question 5 above with
those of three or four other members of your class. Use the
best of these ideas to develop your own PSA. Before you write,
consider your group's purpose. Ask yourselves these questions:
What high-risk factors of this behavior will we specifically
mention? What words will we use that are likely to reach out
to sensation-seeking teens? Perform your PSA for your class.