Thursday, March 7, 2013

Putting It Together

Busy day at the office. Got to work with 6th grade on genre.  Our main goal is to get them to differentiate between historical fiction and historical nonfiction.

We looked at a page from Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson right next to a page from American Plague by Jim Murphy.  I chose pages that talked about the same topic and had similar features.  They were about the people fleeing Philadephia and the constant tolling of the church bell. They both featured a quote at the top of the page and a date.

I wish I had the printouts so that you can see them.  We looked at word choice, sentence length, imagery, quotations, dialogue, and point of view.  We worked backwards from there to come up with defining characteristics.  It was difficult. Why? Because you can't teach genre in one day. They have to read more historical fiction, more nonfiction, more fantasy, more contemporary realistic fiction, more biographies, etc. The more you read and look and study the variety of writing, the more you will know.

Though even then it depends on your schema, what background you bring to the table. And what you learned in your children's literature class. And what textbook you had. It's good to know genres can be fluid. We looked at our all school read and we talked about its genre (historical) and why I chose to place it somewhere else in the library (scary).  We could have talked even more about those choices I made to put books in certain places.

I worked with 2 classroom teachers and we had to come to an agreement on the genres and terminology to use.  I had the opportunity to chat with them in between classes and I almost missed being in the classroom. Almost.

I'm joining the Slice of Life March Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I'm late to the game but I'm staying until the end. #slice2013


  1. What a great idea! I enjoy both those books and have used them with students and my own children as well. I never thought of comparing the two side by side. Thanks for the great idea!

  2. Working with third grade reading intervention students,in San Jose, California, I had them put post-it notes on some of our classroom library books I had read aloud, identifying them as informational, realistic fiction or fantasy.

    On Jane Yolen's Owl Moom I read a note: It's fantasy because there's snow."

  3. Oh, Kathy! Can you send me what you used? I'll be doing Fever next, and I'd love to see this.

  4. This sounds like such a fantastic exercise! It can be so hard to differentiate between genres sometimes, especially with historical novels. I love how you almost miss teaching. ;) You gotta admit, you were a fantastic teacher!!

    Lovely post, Ms. B. <3


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