Lesson: Beginning of Book I - Genre

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to state the definition of the fantasy genre and provide evidence as to why "The Tale of Despereaux" is a fantasy story.

Lesson Plan

Standard/Code/Name:  Introduction to the Novel and GENRE

Do Now (10 minutes):  Upon arriving to class, students will be handed a small packet that includes:  the front cover, the inside cover, and the first chapter of their new book; “The Tales of Despereaux”.  The question they will have to answer from looking at and reading these things is:  “We can separate books into fiction and non-fiction, but we can also continue to sort them into various categories in fiction and non-fiction.  Based off the materials provided, do you think this book is fiction or non-fiction?  What evidence did you see or read that helps to know this?

Opening (15 minutes):  “Today, I am really excited to be able to introduce a new novel that we are going to be reading for the next couple of weeks.  You already read the first chapter of the book for your DO NOW.  “The Tale of Despereaux, as we have all read on the title page is a “story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread.”” 

·         As you are going through this part, put on your mouse ears, hold up your princess puppet, hold up a bowl and pretend to eat some soup, and hold up your spool of read thread.

“Now, as a reader, I am wondering what all these things have to do with each other?  Can anyone give me a summary or a short retelling of what happened in Chapter 1?

·         Students are then giving the opportunity to help summarize the first Chapter.

As a reader, I am also questioning what type of book this is?  I know that when categorizing books, authors are always righting fictional books (books that are not true) or non-fictional books (books that are about real things and not fake stories).  What do you think The Tale of Despereaux is; fiction or non-fiction, and what evidence can you use to support your answer??

·         Give students the opportunity to answer this question.

Direct Instruction (I DO): 

·         Now that we have established that “The Tale of Despereaux” is a fictional or not true story, we need to start thinking about something called GENRE;”

o   Write this on the board and have students repeat it back. 

·         “When librarians and media specialists organize books they don’t just stop at Fiction and Non-fiction; they go further.  When you walk into the library you see many different sections, and those sections are separated by GENRE

o   Point to the word while saying this and have students say it back to you.

·         “GENRE is a special word that people use to describe the different kinds of text in a library or book store, or anywhere else you see books.” 

o   Go around to a couple different student and have them repeat the definition of GENRE.

o   Write the definition on chart paper and have students repeat it back.

·         “As a class we will be looking at many different texts in many different genres.

·         Right now, I want to concentrate on “The Tale of Despereaux.”  In order to figure out what GENRE this novel belongs to, we first need to know what the different GENREs or kinds of texts are out there;

o   “When you go to the library or book store, what different sections do you see?  Make a list of these.”

o   Student should come up with all or some of the following:

§  Fairy Tale
Story about fairies or other magical creatures, usually for children.

§   Fantasy
Fiction with strange or other worldly settings or characters; fiction which invites suspension of reality.

§  Horror
Fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread in both the characters and the reader.

§  Mystery
Fiction dealing with the solution of a crime or the unraveling of secrets.

§  Science Fiction
Story based on impact of actual, imagined, or potential science, usually set in the future or on other planets.

§  Realistic Fiction
Story that can actually happen and is true to life.

o   When students say a particular genre, give them the definition in a nutshell.

o   If some of these are not mentioned offer the rest up for the class with their definitions.

·         “These are all great examples of genre!!!!  I want to focus on four of these:  Mystery, Fantasy, Realistic Fiction and Science Fiction.”


·         “WHAT GENRE DO YOU THINK “The Tale of Despereaux” is?  That is the question I want us to answer!”

·         “As a reader I am wondering if I can really make a decision on the genre just yet??  I may need to get into the text a bit more in order to answer my question.”

§  Read Chapters 2 and 3 with everyone following along in their own copies of the book.

§  Stop at points that help to narrow the GENRE down.  Answer the question “With this being part of the story is this science fiction?  Fantasy? Realistic Fiction?  Or Science Fiction?

§  Plan these stopping points on your own.

·         “After reading a bit more, I can say to myself; “I really didn’t see any hint of science in the first couple of chapters, I bet this book is not going to be a Science Fiction story”

o   The evidence I can provide to this is that in the story so far, I have met a mouse named Despeareaux who was born in a castle.  He has really large ears and is really small compared to the rest of his family.  He also doesn’t have any interest in mouse activities like looking for crumbs.  Something interesting about Despereaux is he is able to read.  His parents think he is a big disappointment as a mouse.

o   There is no mention of science things either.

Guided Practice (WE DO): 

·         Let’s see if we can narrow it down a bit more together.  Now that we got Science Fiction out of the way, is there another one that we may be able to get rid of?” 

o   Make sure you are providing evidence with your answers.  Tell me why!

·         Give students the opportunity to answer the question: What GENRE is “The Tale of Despereaux” providing evidence.

·         Great!  Now that we have knocked another genre or type of text, let’s see if you can narrow it down between fantasy and ____________ (realistic fiction or mystery), 

Independent Practice (YOU DO): 

·         Students will go through the first three chapters of the book and find evidence as to why the novel is Fantasy story vs. (realistic fiction or mystery).

·         Students will be answering the question “What GENRE is “The Tale of Despereaux” written in?  How do you know, what evidence do the text give us?  What is the definition of this genre in your own words?” 

Closing:  Go over again what genre is and highlight the four that the student were introduced to while paying special focus on FANTASY.  Use the definition you have on the chart paper.

Assessment:  During independent practice, students will be answering the question “What GENRE is “The Tale of Despereaux” written in?  How do you know, what evidence do the text give us?  What is the definition of this genre in your own words?” 

·         This will be the “ticket out the door”


·         Tale of Despereaux Folder (each day DO NOW and other associated work will go in here to make a portfolio of student work with the book)

·         Do now packet of materials

o   Copy of the front cover

o   Copy of title page

o   Copy of the 1st chapter

·         Class set of The Tale of Despereaux

·         Independent Practice Sheet

·         Chart paper for the various genres

·         Chart paper with the four highlighted genres and their definitions



Lesson Resources

Lesson 1 Exit Ticket   Activity
Lesson 1 DO NOW   Starter / Do Now
The Tale of Despereaux


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