I never realized how many genres there are in writing! Through taking time to read about and explore each one, I have developed a deeper understanding of the different types of genres I use in my daily life. Each genre has specific features that differentiate it from another; for example, letter writing uses a specific format whereas poems can take on any form the author chooses to use. However, some genres intertwine with one another; for example, you could use persuasive writing in a letter or descriptive writing in a journal entry. Gail Tompkins discusses each type of genre in depth in her book, Teaching Writing: Balancing Process and Product. As a result of engaging in her text, I feel more confident in teaching my students about the many different types of genres they can use in their writing.
At the start of class I thought journal writing meant students only reflected on a topic and wrote in a journal. However I now know journal writing goes beyond this simple definition, and I have a more principled understanding of it. There are so many types of journal writing you can utilize with students, such as double entry journals, reading logs, simulated journals, dialogue journals, etc. These journals allow students to reflect on their learning from concrete texts. In my future classroom, I would love to utilize some of the trade books Tompkins recommends to introduce journal writing to my students. I really enjoyed reading Doreen Cronin’s books, and have to have them on my shelves for my students to read! I will also gather some of the other trade books to utilize with the different types of journal writings. It is a great way to assess and see what my students have learned through their reading.
The only genre I was intimidated by was poetry, and it was the one I was assigned to present to my peers. I was uncomfortable teaching poetry because I, myself, was not comfortable writing it. Poetry always seemed like a free write and there was no format to it; however after reading chapter 7 in Tompkins and several journal articles, I learned poetry can be taught in structured ways. There are so many types of poems that go beyond “free verse” which makes me less intimidated with teaching it; for example, you can give students a topic, have them fill out a graphic organizer, and have them fill in the skeleton of a poem. This type of poetry writing is used for “formula poems”. Through learning about this genre and having the opportunity to teach it to my peers, I am less intimated and look forward to utilizing it in my future classroom.
Overall, I feel this class has given me the opportunity to become a better writing teacher. I feel I am an expert on the many different genres we learned about and explored this semester. In my future classroom, my goal is provide meaningful writing experiences to my students and have them feel comfortable writing in the different genres as well. I think it would be neat to introduce and focus on a new type of genre each month. I know I will definitely be referring back to Tompkins to refresh my memory, design activities, and pick out trade books.