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September 28, 2017

Exploring Genre Umbrellas

By Juan Gonzalez
Grades 3–5

    Some of my favorite work in developing readers is exploring genres. When the reader knows what to expect from a certain text, they are better equipped to enjoy and comprehend their reading experience.

    Most of my third graders come to me with ability to distinguish the basic differences between fiction and nonfiction. To help my readers begin understanding sub-genres, I created and hung "genre umbrellas" for an exploration lesson. Not every lesson setup in my classroom is this intricate. When there are topics/skills that need big moments, I go big because it makes it more memorable. My goal with this lesson wasn’t to master each genre, instead, I wanted the students to start building their vocabulary and give them a chance to explore genres through discussion. Keep reading to see what went down in our classroom.

    Materials

    • Umbrellas
    • Books from various genres
    • Sticky notes
    • String
    • Duct tape
    • Ceiling hooks
    • Scholastic Book Clubs catalogs
    • Genre Shopping form (located in this post)
    • Genre posters (located in this post)

    Tips

    • Ask friends and family to borrow their umbrellas.
    • Ask your librarian for books if your classroom library is missing some of the genres.
    • If you can't hang things from your ceiling, you can still create a genre umbrella and hold the umbrella in your hands to give the students a great visual.

    Setup

    I prepared this activity the day before I was going to teach the lesson. I tied string to the top of the umbrellas and hung them on ceiling hooks. Then I used a strip of duct tape to attach the genre posters to the handle of the umbrella. The final touch was adding a stack of books of different genres in the middle of each table. 

     

    When the students arrived the next day, their eyes sparkled and curiosity struck. One student asked, “Mr. G, what is happening?” I smiled and replied, “You’ll find out soon.”

    Task # 1 — Sort Books Between Fiction and Nonfiction

    I introduced the lesson by acknowledging that my students have a great understanding of what it means when a book is fiction or nonfiction. I then went on to give a brief explanation of sub-genres, their definitions, and showed book examples of each genre. Finally, it was time for our first task!

    The students worked with their table groups and sorted the books under the fiction and nonfiction umbrellas. Before we started, we reviewed how to preview books to help us decide the genre. For example:

    • Read the title and author
    • Read the book blurb
    • Preview a few pages

    As the students worked I walked around, prompted, and joined in on the conversations when needed.

    Task # 2 — Label Each Book Using Sticky Notes

    After a few minutes, the students finished their sorting. I asked each group to share one book and how they decided on the correct genre umbrella. I then introduced a new task. The students had to work together to decide the correct sub-genre that each book belongs to. Once they agreed on a sub-genre, they had to write the genre name on a sticky note and place it on the book. There was a lot of great discussion, they had many questions, and I loved every second of it.

    Task # 3 — Genre Book Shopping

    Finally, we finished up task two and the students shared books that were tough to identify. They discussed their struggle with deciding between fantasy and science fiction, and how to know the differences in traditional literature. We talked about these challenges and how we can use the genre definitions to guide our thinking.

    I then introduced our final activity, Genre Book Shopping! I handed out our Fall Scholastic Book Clubs catalogs and told the students that they would be genre shopping. This means that instead of shopping for books we want to read, we are looking for books that fall under the different sub-genres. While browsing the catalog they needed to:

    • Identify the genre of each book based on the cover and mini book blurbs
    • Explain the elements that make the genre

    I modeled how to complete one of the boxes and sent the students off to shop for genres. They used the hanging posters to fill out their charts as they perused their catalogs. Once the readers completed the activity, they started adding to their book wish list. I don't blame them, these catalogs are pure joy!

    Would you like to try these activities? Click on the images below to download the genre posters (there are 10 included plus a blank template for you to add your own) and Genre Book Shopping form.

    Thank you for reading. I hope you’re all having a wonderful school year.

    Stay connected with our classroom, check me out on Instagram! @Teaching3rdWithMrG

     

    Some of my favorite work in developing readers is exploring genres. When the reader knows what to expect from a certain text, they are better equipped to enjoy and comprehend their reading experience.

    Most of my third graders come to me with ability to distinguish the basic differences between fiction and nonfiction. To help my readers begin understanding sub-genres, I created and hung "genre umbrellas" for an exploration lesson. Not every lesson setup in my classroom is this intricate. When there are topics/skills that need big moments, I go big because it makes it more memorable. My goal with this lesson wasn’t to master each genre, instead, I wanted the students to start building their vocabulary and give them a chance to explore genres through discussion. Keep reading to see what went down in our classroom.

    Materials

    • Umbrellas
    • Books from various genres
    • Sticky notes
    • String
    • Duct tape
    • Ceiling hooks
    • Scholastic Book Clubs catalogs
    • Genre Shopping form (located in this post)
    • Genre posters (located in this post)

    Tips

    • Ask friends and family to borrow their umbrellas.
    • Ask your librarian for books if your classroom library is missing some of the genres.
    • If you can't hang things from your ceiling, you can still create a genre umbrella and hold the umbrella in your hands to give the students a great visual.

    Setup

    I prepared this activity the day before I was going to teach the lesson. I tied string to the top of the umbrellas and hung them on ceiling hooks. Then I used a strip of duct tape to attach the genre posters to the handle of the umbrella. The final touch was adding a stack of books of different genres in the middle of each table. 

     

    When the students arrived the next day, their eyes sparkled and curiosity struck. One student asked, “Mr. G, what is happening?” I smiled and replied, “You’ll find out soon.”

    Task # 1 — Sort Books Between Fiction and Nonfiction

    I introduced the lesson by acknowledging that my students have a great understanding of what it means when a book is fiction or nonfiction. I then went on to give a brief explanation of sub-genres, their definitions, and showed book examples of each genre. Finally, it was time for our first task!

    The students worked with their table groups and sorted the books under the fiction and nonfiction umbrellas. Before we started, we reviewed how to preview books to help us decide the genre. For example:

    • Read the title and author
    • Read the book blurb
    • Preview a few pages

    As the students worked I walked around, prompted, and joined in on the conversations when needed.

    Task # 2 — Label Each Book Using Sticky Notes

    After a few minutes, the students finished their sorting. I asked each group to share one book and how they decided on the correct genre umbrella. I then introduced a new task. The students had to work together to decide the correct sub-genre that each book belongs to. Once they agreed on a sub-genre, they had to write the genre name on a sticky note and place it on the book. There was a lot of great discussion, they had many questions, and I loved every second of it.

    Task # 3 — Genre Book Shopping

    Finally, we finished up task two and the students shared books that were tough to identify. They discussed their struggle with deciding between fantasy and science fiction, and how to know the differences in traditional literature. We talked about these challenges and how we can use the genre definitions to guide our thinking.

    I then introduced our final activity, Genre Book Shopping! I handed out our Fall Scholastic Book Clubs catalogs and told the students that they would be genre shopping. This means that instead of shopping for books we want to read, we are looking for books that fall under the different sub-genres. While browsing the catalog they needed to:

    • Identify the genre of each book based on the cover and mini book blurbs
    • Explain the elements that make the genre

    I modeled how to complete one of the boxes and sent the students off to shop for genres. They used the hanging posters to fill out their charts as they perused their catalogs. Once the readers completed the activity, they started adding to their book wish list. I don't blame them, these catalogs are pure joy!

    Would you like to try these activities? Click on the images below to download the genre posters (there are 10 included plus a blank template for you to add your own) and Genre Book Shopping form.

    Thank you for reading. I hope you’re all having a wonderful school year.

    Stay connected with our classroom, check me out on Instagram! @Teaching3rdWithMrG

     

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Susan Cheyney

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