As Dave, my golden retriever, and I had our Tea-on-the-Deck time this morning, I read the blog from Two Writing Teachers. Ruth was reminding us that the genres in which the common core standards are addressing: narrative, informative, opinion, are not to be put into segregated boxes. This was new thinking for me.
Usually, I would start the year out by teaching narrative writing with any grade level where I was working. We would start there because that seemed to be the easiest way to create interest and have children want to tell their story and then write it. I had never thought of how story was also a part of informative and opinion writing.
Looking out at my rose garden from the deck, I was thinking of those roses blooming so beautifully in the late summer sunshine. I remember when we decided to turn that space into a rose area. My story about that would include our thinking and some discussion and lots of action. But along with that part of the story, there is also the things we learned as we created this space. The various types of roses and which ones we thought were best for us. The vast amount of names and styles was another decision-making trial. I could also include in my story about roses, their types and names for the informative part of the story. Along with that would come our opinion of what was best for us. Yes, all three modes of writing easily could be written in this narrative.
One fifth grade classroom I will be working with this year, is starting off with research and informational writing. Normally I would not think of including narrative in this form of writing. However, if I decided to write about the Civil War, I might want to include a story about how I found several Civil War veterans grave sites in a local cemetery last spring. As Ruth Ayres says in her blog: "All three modes of writing--narrative, opinion, and informative--influence everything we write."
Many of the grade levels will be again starting their writing workshops with narrative writing this fall. It might be interesting to collect books that use information and opinion within the narrative. It might be interesting to find books that we think are simply informational, but also have facts and stories to influence the project. By reading these books, we could see how the authors message was written and then use the books as mentor texts throughout the unit of study.
As you begin your writer's workshop this year, can you imagine including all three genres? It doesn't matter what grade level you teach. It would work for kindergarten through middle school. If you try it or find some great mentor texts, we would love to have you share!
Happy Reading and Writing!
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