Genre study offers teachers a systematic approach to help students read, understand, and then replicate each genre's characteristics in their writing.The Common Core State Standards place great emphasis on genre study.
In these exercises, teachers introduce different types of literary and informational texts and features developmentally. This enables students to understand, practice, and apply strategies they are learning. Genre study turns students into authors who understand other authors.
What Is a Genre?
A genre is a class or category of literature that shares recognizable characteristics of form, content, and style. Literature is first divided into poetry and prose. Prose is then categorized as follows:
Benefits of Genre Study
Teaching writing through genre study has many benefits. By studying one genre at a time, students have the opportunity to:
- Understand components and master techniques of each genre
- Think and work like an author by analyzing mentor texts
- Learn multiple ways of gathering and organizing information
- Learn how authors use language to express their ideas
- Observe how different genres connect across lines (for example, a historical fiction author might use technical writing skills to explain how something was done long ago)
Genre Study: What Is a Mentor Text?
A mentor text is a piece of literature that serves as an expert model for other writers. The most common type of mentor text is a well-loved book through which teachers can point out particular features of the genre, such as:
- Personification in fables
- Different types of sentence structures
- How to use a setting to create a mood
- The pros and cons of using first person versus third person point of view
- How to use emotional words to persuade readers
Quality student and teacher writing can serve as mentor texts as well.