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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Entry 11: Reflecting on the Different Genres

From these genre projects, I have learned a great deal about the different writing genres that I can apply into my classroom. Whether I had an understanding of a topic or not, these presentations helped further my understanding.

One of the genres that I really enjoyed was the poetry genre. I remember discussing the fact that I am required to teach poetry to my students at some point this year, with another teacher friend. He told me he just taught to basics of poetry and didn’t dwell too much into it. This friend also teaches in a 6:1:1 program so he is limited on the depth he teaches it. After reading Tompkins (2012), I think he can still teach poetry other than the basics. Since I have fully realize the altitude of which I need to teach poetry, how and when I am going to teach it has been a constant worry. But now after the genre presentation, I am less worried about how to teach it. Poetry doesn’t have to be what I learned back in high school- Wadsworth, Shakespeare, Keats, etc. Between Tompkins’ (chapter) and the presentation, I know I can teach any kind of poem. Slam poetry might be a great form of poetry to use with my students. One of the best poem books I am going to use as a resource is “A Rose Grew from the Concrete” by Tupak. This will allow me to teach important literary techniques using a writer that my students will enjoy. From the chapter, my favorite type of poem was the “I am…” poems (Tompkins, 2012, p. 158). These poems can be incorporated throughout any unit as the students can write about either a central character/person or an idea. Caitlin and I thoroughly enjoyed writing ours on leaves. How the poetry group had us draw topics was a fun and creative way to fill out the poem. Another poem format I plan on incorporating into my classroom is the “I used to…But Now…” poems (Tompkins, 2012, p. 159). I can see my students using this as a way to organize their perceptions before a topic and after they learned about a topic. My 7th grader and I just finished reading Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Before reading the novel, I activated his background knowledge by assessing what he already knew about Native Americans. After accessing it, I started to build more background knowledge by reading articles and histories on the Spokane Indians. This poem would have been a great way to tie poetry in to the unit.
Another genre of writing that taught me a new insight was expository writing. These types of texts are growing more and more important in the Common Core. One of my bigger struggles is trying to figure out how to incorporate these types of texts in the classroom while making it engaging and fun for the students. After reading chapter 9 from Tompkins (2012), I realized I can incorporate these texts before reading a fiction text of the same topic in order to build background knowledge. When teaching my 7th grader Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I used “a wide variety of compositions, including magazine articles” and websites to build my student’s background knowledge (Tompkins, 2012, p 202). Looking back upon that now, I wish I had found a expository book that was brief, and taught my student more background knowledge. While the article and website was helpful, a book would have been better. Since the book was about Spokane Indians, I used it as a comparison to compare my student’s prior conceptions of Native Americans to what the text stated. Although I had not read the chapter at that point, my comparison chart was very similar to that on p 205 (Tompkins, 2012). In the future I am going to take away from this chapter is the information from the “Preparing for Writing Tests” section on p 224 as well as the “Assessing Expository Writing section on pp 224-226 (Tompkins, 2012). This writing test section would be great tool to copy and put on a poster board in my room, when I have my older students write an informative piece. By knowing the common mistakes writers make, such as including few details, I know what to make sure I reinforce and check for. The other section helps me create a checklist for my students on what they need to include in their writing. Checklists are great because “students understand what’s expected of them and assume responsibility for completing each step of the assignment” (Tompkins, 2012, p 224).


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. It is clear you gained a great deal of knowledge regarding useful mentor texts -- both from Tompkins and from the Genre Presenters. I hope you continue to search for additional K-12 mentor texts to add to your professional collection, Katie. I am sure they will be useful to meet the wide range of literacy levels you encounter with your students.

    (Sorry I had to delete the last comment. Something happened to the formatting and it was all garbled.)