What is a genre study? Why should I use genre studies to teach writing? Tell me more.....

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

Hey hi hello!

How are you getting through this coronavirus craziness? How many of you are still in school? I don’t suspect many LTaiwan is one of like only 5 or 6 countries that are still in school. It is WILD. We’re like in our own little bubble over here.

Question for you- what is your FAVORITE quarantine game? Tell me in the comments! We are looking for some fun Friday night activities for after work.

Today I want to share with you the power behind GENRE STUDIES!! If you are looking for ways to enhance your students’ understanding and interest of actual genres, genre studies are the WAY TO GO. I love using genre studies in my classroom to teach writing because honestly they’re very flexible. The students can help to lead you through the process and really make it their own. In a genre study, the students will be able to really dive into the genre and decide on different aspects that make a story that genre. They can reflect on their own writing, and categorize it into genres. They can develop a deeper connection with mentor texts, and be able to look at them with an analytical lens. Finally, genre studies engage your students in both reading and writing regularly... and I mean, really that's what it's all about right?! As I said, the main thing that I appreciate about genre studies is that they are so flexible and really can be student/teacher led. This gives that release of responsibility, while still allowing the teacher to guide and support.

I currently have ONE genre study unit outline up in my TPT store, which is great for helping you to create and plan your own genre study. I don’t want you to walk down this road alone, y’all! The one I have offered currently is a narrative writing (grades 1-3), which covers non-fiction and fiction narrative writing and fairytales/fables. However, these are my guiding plans… they are not the set in stone way! You may find that your students want to investigate into other subgenera of narrative writing, and that’s totally cool!

The first thing you MUST do in a genre study is make sure you have ample amounts of example texts. These can be teacher created, past student created, actual books, or stories/books that address digital literacies to read them (think Vooks, Epic!, etc.). These books can be chosen based on a few different factors: what is available to you (obviously HUGE), what is your grade level/student independent reading abilities, and finally, what is the culture(s) that would best reflect your students?

After that, you begin reading and introducing these stories to your students and discussing how they are narrative writings. Ask your students everyday to compare in their minds how these books are similar, you could also do this by creating a list of similarities and differences and begin adding to it everyday. After few times reading some examples, you and your students construct a definition of a narrative writing based on the books you’ve read and their prior knowledge. You will want to write this down, as you will be referring to it all throughout the study!

Next, you will plan mini lessons to address different aspects of writing these types of stories. This can be super flexible based on what your students need, but I have created some example lessons in my genre study outline! Plus, you can see some of those down below!

You will work through these different mini lessons everyday, while your students have the opportunity to try their hand at writing in that genre. Actually getting regularly scheduled time to write is SO IMPORTANT. Don’t let this pass you. Writing workshop (Lucy Caulkins) recommends that we give our students 40-50 minutes 3-5 times a week for writing. This is not always easy to make work, I understand, but making sure your students are getting that time to write is what will CHANGE their writing! Narrative writing is by far the easiest for most, so this makes it very easy to start with. Be sure to read and conference with your students about their writings and address their misunderstandings or misconceptions about the genre.

Teacher created writings are GREAT examples here for what a student should do. I definitely recommend putting your hand in at writing 1-2 stories to present as an example for your students! One of the most important things we can remember, as a teacher, students learn from examples. You cannot teach writing if you’re not a writer yourself. Put yourself back into the writing position and see how you change your views of writing!

Tell me in the comments what other kinds of genre study unit outlines you would want me to make for you! I would love to help you get this going in your classroom. You WILL see improvement in your students’ writing abilities!



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