I have learned a lot through reading my peers’ blogs and hearing their own ideas based on our class readings and discussions. It was hard to pick only one quote for this entry, but Jennifer’s entry about genre’s really caught my eye and got me thinking. She said…
“In general I have seen students learning fiction vs. non-fiction as well as poetry. Beyond this, genres are not really introduced from what I have experienced. With this experience, and the influence of class I plan to change this.”
Looking back on my own educational career and my experiences in the classroom, I can honestly say I do not remember teachers explicitly teaching about genres. I believe Jennifer has the right idea as she plans to change this, and I am right on board with her! As an educator, I think it is important to expose students to various genres and explore each one individually. I agree with Jennifer that it is important for students to know and understand the characteristics of each type of genre, and also be able to write in their different forms. There are so many exciting and engaging ways you can teach genres explicitly. Moreover, my main goal is to have students feel comfortable and confident when writing in each different style.
If I could teach any grade level, it would be first grade. I believe they are just as capable at learning about the various genres as upper level students. Tompkins is a great and reliable resource to use because she provides books and writing ideas across different grade levels. My students would learn to expect a new genre at the beginning of each month; for example, poetry would be our theme for September, and everything we read and wrote during this month would revolve around this central theme. When working with younger students, I strongly believe in utilizing read-alouds to introduce a new topic. I would perform many poetic read-alouds and whole group lessons to explicitly explore the characteristics of this genre. We would read poetry books during our morning reading groups, and later in the day we would work on writing poems. Tompkins presents many appropriate poems for early learners, such as formula poems; this would allow me to give students a topic, and provide a skeleton for them to fill in with their own writing. By the end of the month my goal would be for each student to feel comfortable when working with poetry and be able to tell me about the poetry genre. Then come October, we would start a new genre!
I think it is imperative, when working with young learners, to take a slower pace. You have to keep in mind that they may not have any background knowledge and it could be up to you create it. Focusing on one genre a month would be a great way for students to explicitly learn about each one. They could even keep a binder with different easy-to-read genre pieces that they could refer back to and read independently. This would also aid in their fluency and provide a fun way to engage them in reading on their own.