It's important to review genres with students again (or for the first time) | Mentoring in the Middle

It's important to review genres with students again (or for the first time)

Teaching genres at the beginning of the school year makes sense.  But I'd argue it makes as much sense to review it - or teach it - when you come back from winter break.  You and your students are familiar with books at your grade level now, and their understanding of genres can be deepened.
sA stack of books to learn about genres
Genre Activities - Activating Strategies
Here are some great activating strategies that get kids up and moving - or thinking - about genres they like, and why
  1. Discuss your favorite kinds of books and ask students about theirs
  2. Mention a genre and have students line up across your classroom, with one end being "Never want to read it" and the other being "It's my favorite genre."
  3. Have students give the names of books they've recently finished, and as a group, come up with the genre.
  4. Describe a genre without naming it and see if students can identify it.

Genre Lesson Plans

Objective: Students will be able to identify and differentiate between various literary genres based on their qualities

- CCRA.R.5: Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text relate to each other and the whole.
- CCRA.R.6: Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

  1. Introduce the concept of genre and explain why it's important:  Today, we're going to learn about genres of fiction and nonfiction books.  A genre is a specific type of writing that follows similar rules.  You might have some ideas about specific genres that you like.  (I've sometimes found kids say they don't like a particular genre before they've discovered a book that changes their mind!)
  2. Give them notes on each genre that you want them to know.  The ones I used for 6th graders were: 
  • Adventure
  • Biography and Autobiography
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
  • Graphic Novels
  • Historical Fiction
  • Mystery
  • Myths
  • Nonfiction (this could be broken up into Narrative, Explanatory, and Descriptive)
  • Poetry
  • Realistic Fiction
  • Science Fiction

        3.  Break students up into groups and have them identify books that you put in front of them.  You could do this as a book-tasting and have the books already set out around the room, or just break students up into groups and hand them a few books.  Listen as they work together to see where they look for clues.

        4.  Have students share their results with the class.  Or maybe only share the ones they struggled with (many books cross into several different genres.  When that happens, I suggest they look for the dominant one.  When all else fails, I go to library websites and look there.

        5.  Exit slip (optional) - give students the title of a familiar book and have them explain the genre and why.

Genre Extension Activities

  • Give students a variety of short texts and have them identify the genre and why
  • Use task cards and have students work together to identify genres
  • Create a book-tasting event with books sorted by genre.  Give students 3 - 5 minutes at each station.  They need to pick up a different book every minute (time them) and see if there are any they want to try! This was a very popular activity in my classroom and students either carried their iPads with them to take pictures of interesting books or their Books To Be Read list to write them down.
  • Have students imagine how different a book they've read might be if it were written in a different genre.  Write a brief description of what that change would read like.  Or write about why the author might have chosen to write in the genre they chose.
  • With a partner or small group, have students create a new genre.  They must explain why their genre would be read by students and what familiar themes it would have.
I hope this has given you some ideas about how to teach or review genres with your class.
  • Want to do this but don't have the time to create everything?  Look no further than this resource which also provides a variety of graphic organizers to meet students' needs.
A stack of books with a type of genre on the edge of each book

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