Many students think of writing as just that—writing! They don’t categorize writing into different genres or think about the qualities that make different genres, such as distinctions between informative, argumentative, and narrative writing. Furthermore, each of those genres have subgenres: poetry, memoir, commentary, and so much more.
At the beginning of the year, I like students to make sure they know the differences and possibly discover—if they have not—which type of genre they prefer to write in. When we do free-writes or quick-writes in our notebooks, I want them to know that they have several possibilities for forming their thoughts and ideas. I want them to write and enjoy it, so if that means that they want to explore their thoughts on the weather in a poem, then I encourage them. If they want to explore their thoughts on their pet in an argumentative way, then please do so.
In this fun lesson, groups of students will be given a few different pieces of writing in different genres. As a group they will decide which genre that writing fits into and discuss some of the characteristics that identify that piece of writing as memoir, argumentative, informative, etc. After discussing the characteristics of each type of genre, students will then pull a subject word from a cup and a genre word from another cup. They must write on their subject in the genre they received. After about ten minutes, I let students pick a new genre and subject and try their hand at something different.