One of the first lessons that I do before introducing narrative writing is a simple investigation. I do this over 2-3 three days, depending on how speedy my class is! I like to do this before I start teaching ANY genre of writing. This way my kids have a basic understanding of typical text structure.
On the first day I set out a basket of books at each table group. In the basket are literary books- mostly narrative.
I give student just a few minutes to browse the basket. I ask students to look for things that can be found in literary text. I encourage the kids to talk to their table groups. Then we come to the carpet and discuss with our partners what we notice and share it whole group. Then we create an anchor chart together.
On the second day I pass out a new basket of books to table groups. This time the basket is filled with nonfiction books. I ask the students to browse through the books a think about what they notice about nonfiction text.
After students browse we sit at the carpet and create a new anchor chart . This chart is, “What Do I Notice About Nonfiction Text?” If students are able we can move to the next part of the lesson or I just do it the next day. I post both of our anchor charts about texts. Then we create a Venn Diagram comparing the two types of texts. It is easy since they have already done all the brainstorming! It is also a great way to introduce the concept of comparing and contrasting.
I like to do this because I think it really gets them thinking and also begins to encourage students to notice the features and structures of texts. It also has a SECOND benefit. It gets the kids excited about different books and often my kids want to actually now read and check out the books they just got a taste of! Many times I will keep all the books that I checked out in baskets in the front of the room for awhile. Then, students can read them when they have time!
Generally, after this I jump into narrative writing. I will share more about that Monday!!
Mandy Gregory is a 2007 and 2012 Teacher of the Year. She has taught 4th, 3rd, and 2nd grade in both the general education and inclusion setting. She is the owner and creator of the Teaching Tips website (www.mandygregory.com) and has over 10 years of experience. She is married with two beautiful children.