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Ms. Marjorie Hall

What is a Genre Study?

Published on 7/11/2017


Students explore literary genres by completing a series of genre studies, each spanning two to three weeks. The concept of genres is introduced through class discussion, during which students determine the main characteristics of various genres. Students are then assigned a genre to explore, and they use interactive notebooks to record evidence that their book fits the assigned genre. Finally, students complete a book review and share summaries of the books they read with their classmates. Conducting studies of multiple genres can help students to achieve a better understanding of their characteristics.


As children complete their schooling, it is important that they are exposed to and immersed in many kinds of print and many types of literature. A genre study is one way to accomplish that.

As Smith wrote in 1991, "The analysis of different types of literature promotes cognitive development because it gives students an opportunity to apply similar skills and strategies, such as identifying themes discussed in one genre-fiction, for example-to other genres like poetry, reports, descriptive pieces, and plays."

Research also shows that the more experience students have in reading different genres, the more successful they will be in writing in different genres.

Literary Genres

A list of the types of books included in the list and may be used as search criteria to find books of interest in the list.

All Fiction

Stories composed in verse or prose, usually for theatrical performance, where conflicts and emotion are expressed through dialogue and action.

Narration demonstrating a useful truth, especially in which animals speak as humans; legendary, supernatural tale.

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

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

Narrative literary works whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.

Fiction in Verse 
Full-length novels with plot, subplot(s), theme(s), major and minor characters, in which the narrative is presented in (usually blank) verse form.

The songs, stories, myths, and proverbs of a people or "folk" as handed down by word of mouth.

Historical Fiction 
Story with fictional characters and events in a historical setting.

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

Fiction full of fun, fancy, and excitement, meant to entertain; but can be contained in all genres

Story, sometimes of a national or folk hero, which has a basis in fact but also includes imaginative material.

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

Legend or traditional narrative, often based in part on historical events, that reveals human behavior and natural phenomena by its symbolism; often pertaining to the actions of the gods.

Verse and rhythmic writing with imagery that creates emotional responses.

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

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

Short Story 
Fiction of such brevity that it supports no subplots.

Tall Tale 
Humorous story with blatant exaggerations, swaggering heroes who do the impossible with nonchalance.

All Nonfiction

Narrative of a person's life, a true story about a real person.

A short literary composition that reflects the author's outlook or point.

Narrative Nonfiction 
Factual information presented in a format which tells a story.

Informational text dealing with an actual, real-life subject.

Public address or discourse.

Further Reading

Short, Kathy G., Jean Schroeder, Gloria Kauffman, and Sandy Kaser (Eds). "Explorations of Genre." Language Arts 81.3 (January 2004).

Smith, Carl B. 1994. Helping Children Understand Literary Genres. Bloomington, IN: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading English and Communication

Hansen, Jane, and Vivian Vasquez. "Genre Studies" School Talk 7.3 (April 2002).


What are Literature Circles?

Published on 7/11/2017

In literature circles, small groups of students gather together to discuss a piece of literature in depth. The discussion is guided by students' response to what they have read. You may hear talk about events and characters in the book, the author's craft, or personal experiences related to the story. Literature circles provide a way for students to engage in critical thinking and reflection as they read, discuss, and respond to books. Collaboration is at the heart of this approach. Students reshape and add onto their understanding as they construct meaning with other readers. Finally, literature circles guide students to deeper understanding of what they read through structured discussion and extended written and artistic response.

Literature Circle Roles

The narrator and discussion director develops questions about the text's "big ideas." For example, the director might ask, "How did you feel while you were reading this part of the book?" or "What do you think the most important parts were?" 

The summarizer writes a short précis of that day's reading. It should contain the main ideas and/or the most important moments.

The connector helps the group connect what they're reading and the world outside by sharing his or her own connections.

The word wizzard finds words that are puzzling, unfamiliar, or special, then looks up the definitions and reports them to the group. For example, a student asks the group what they think "linoleum" might mean.

The illustrator draws something related to the reading -- a sketch, cartoon, diagram, flow chart, or even a stick figure scene. 

Though the literature circle process begins with assigning students specific roles to follow, most of the students will internalize the roles after practice. Eventually, small groups can meet and engage in literature discussions without the roles (though the teacher may still want to have the groups follow some protocol, such as taking notes or keeping time in each session).

Assessment of Literature Circles

As the students discuss the reading selection in the literature circle, the teacher listens, takes notes, and monitors the students' abilities to contribute to the discussion through their assigned roles. After all the literature circles have completed their discussions, the students can present their insights and questions to the rest of the class. The teacher can also lead the class in an assessment of the literature circles by asking the following questions:

Based on our literature circles, what are the most important ideas you learned about your reading selection today?

How well did each member of your literature circle contribute in his or her assigned role?

What went well in your literature circle?

What would you do to improve our literature circles?

Benefits of Literature Circles

In literature circles, every student can participate in conversation. They are often less intimidated than they might be in a class discussion. The students are also actively constructing their own meanings of a text, rather than waiting for a teacher to "give" them an official meaning.

By practicing the analytic strategies of each group role, students become cannier, more resourceful readers.

The different roles in a literature circle show students that historical texts may embrace multiple perspectives, depending on who is telling the story of history. As the students bring these perspectives to the entire group, everyone benefits and learns from one another.

As students try out various roles and learn ways to talk about a text, they begin to internalize these habits and perspectives; eventually, they can discuss literature productively while guiding the conversation themselves.

What is Notice and Note?

Published on 7/11/2017

The Basics:

What? A reading routine which provides students with “look fors” as they are reading and encourages them to reread a portion of a text to answer a question about the meaning of the text.

When? As students read a text for class or for independent reading.

Why? Promotes student engagement in a text and helps students determine meaning and theme in literary texts, which contribute to student comprehension of complex texts.

Student Outcomes This strategy helps students refine their understanding of texts to meet reading expectations in preparation of writing about texts.

Fiction Signposts:

CONTRASTS & CONTRADICTIONS When a character does something that contrasts with what you’d expect or contradicts his earlier acts or statements, STOP and ask, “Why is the character doing that?” The answer will help you make predictions and draw inferences about the plot and conflict.

WORDS OF THE WISER When a character (probably older and wiser) takes the main character aside and offers serious advice, STOP and ask, “What’s the life lesson and how might if affect the character?” This lesson is probably the theme of the story.

AHA MOMENT When a character realizes, understands, or finally figures out something, STOP and ask yourself, “How might this change things?” If it is about a problem, it tells you something about the conflict; if it is a life lesson, it tells you something about the theme.

AGAIN & AGAIN When you notice a word, phrase, or situation mentioned over and over, STOP and ask yourself, “Why does this keep happening again and again?” The answer will tell you about the theme and conflict, or will foreshadow what might happen later in the story.

MEMORY MOMENT When the author interrupts the action to tell you about a memory, STOP and ask yourself, “Why might this memory be important?” The answer will tell you about the theme and conflict, or will foreshadow what might happen later in the story.

TOUGH QUESTIONS When a character asks himself a very difficult question, STOP and ask yourself, “What does this question make me wonder about?” The answer will tell you about the conflict, and help you think about what might happen later in the story. 

Non-Fiction Signposts:

Contrasts & Contradictions: When the author shows you how things/people/ideas contrast and contradict one another, or shows you something that contrasts or contradicts what you already know, you need to stop & ask yourself... What is the difference and why does it matter?

● Extreme or Absolute Language: When the author uses language that is extreme or absolute, you need to stop and ask yourself... Why did the author use this language?

● Number and Stats: When the author uses specific numbers or provides statistical information, you need to stop and ask yourself… Why did the author use these numbers or amounts?

● Quoted Words: When the author chooses to quote someone, you need to ask yourself… Why was this person quoted or cited and what did this add?

● Word Gaps: When the author chooses to use a word or phrase that you don’t know, you need to ask yourself… Do I know this word from someplace else? Does it seem like technical talk for this topic? Can I find clues in the sentence to help me understand the word?

Teacher Profile

Ms. Marjorie Hall
Reading Teacher Middle

Middle School GT Reading Teacher for Lamar CISD. Mother of Two Boys (and 2 pups), Graduate student at American College of Education, Candle Maker, Lover of Literacy and Music. I look forward to learning and growing with you! 😇📚🕯🎼🐕. 

Follow me on Twitter: @Halls_Readers Linkedin: Connect with me on Edmodo:

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