This year, I’ve challenged myself to rethink genre instruction so that students gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the three main types. In order to build stronger connections between reading and writing, I reworked my units so that they are completely intertwined. Just as with my non-fiction units, you’ll find lessons focused mainly on reading skills in a unit called, “All About Fiction” while those centered around writing skills in a unit called, “Fictional Writing.” In my classroom, both units were taught simultaneously over a nine-week period.
Students created their own fictional characters in the first five lessons in this writing unit. In the remaining lessons, students use that character to write a fiction story modeled after one of the folktale genres studied in class. Each writing lesson was designed to partner with a reading lesson with the same focus. For instance, in “Folktales: Locating the Introduction,” students learn about what an introduction is, where it is located in a fiction story and why it is important. This lesson was meant to precede the writing lesson where students create the introduction to their own fiction stories. However, they easily could be taught separately if needed to accommodate your schedule.
Today is my favorite in the writing unit. Each author in the room gets to show off their most recent publication with the class! After writing their drafts on paper, students created a digital, final copy on StoryJumper. We used this site earlier in the year to write our informational chapter books. Students loved it so much that they begged to use it again. (For more information on StoryJumper, see my strategy lesson about the site itself or lessons on how we used it during our non-fiction writing project.)
We move our seats to the front of the room to form a listening audience for each author. Writers read their stories to the class and show their illustrations for each page by clicking through their digital text on the SmartBoard. Students in the audience listen out for fictional elements in each story and share what they found when stories are finished.
At the end of our “author visits,” students each complete a book recommendation form. They complete it about the book they liked the best. For a time it is posted on our “Books We Could Read Again and Again” wall before being given to the writer.