Week 1 of Teaching Reading Genres in Upper Elementary

In my reading room this past week, our first full unit of the year was Reading Genres. We had one week to teach it and get mastery! Here’s how I got 85% mastery in five days – and how I’ll get 100% mastery in ten.

Day One and Two – I begin with a few notes of the most common genres.

This is a Powerpoint Presentation in which we discuss the key characteristics of the most commonly read genres. Students take notes using the companion page, identifying the key characteristics of each genre through sketches and words (my version of sketchnotes). This lesson closes with the students reading the first page of their independent reading book and determining the genre. I have the students share their thoughts and, as a class, we correct any misconceptions.

Day Three – Determine the genres using book summaries. This is a modeled, and scaffolded lesson using the powerpoint presentation and notes page from above.

Day Four – A Book Sort. This is a low prep activity. You can pull a bunch of books in different genres from your library, or have your students use your classroom library books. (I keep my classroom library unorganized at the beginning of the year for this purpose.) In collaborative groups, the students will read the summaries of each book they are given and sort them by genre. I encourage my students to use their notes pages from earlier in the week for reference. For my more advanced students, they are given the task of coming up with an organizational system for our classroom library at the same time as sorting, and are then tasked with organizing our classroom library for the week.

Day Five – Writing in our favorite genres. Now, we apply the skills we’ve learned throughout this week. Using Google’s JamBoard, we plan a story that follows the characteristics of our favorite genre. Students add an image of a setting, characters, and a few key plot events that would follow the pattern of their favorite genre. This is a favorite activity in my classroom!

Also on Day Five – we assess.

In small groups and independent work assignments throughout the week, I use ereading worksheets (this is a free site of reading worksheets based on reading skills) to practice reading book summaries, finding key clues in the text, and determining the genre. Usually with these, I project the summary on the worksheet we are using and have the students share aloud the text clues at the table while I do the work. The students use their notes pages from Day One and Two (link above) and put a gem on the genre on their notes page to show their thinking. This is easily turned into any game of your choice using any game of your choice (correct answers gets a move in the game, incorrect can mean the teacher gets a move). Easy peasy! For independent work, EReading Worksheets also has a game called “Genre Pirahna” that my students beg to play!

Now, for the 15% percent who need a little extra time after this week in the classroom. I’ll use those same small group and independent reading games to do remediation. This time, it’s a much smaller group, and I can do some one-on-one tutoring (it’s only 3 students).

Oh, and for homework! I sent home a copy of my Genres Anchor Chart with the essential questions and key skills, with definitions, for my students to study at home. Many of my students said they used it throughout the week with their parents, to quiz themselves and were thankful to have the opportunity to do so.

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