genre · units of study

Genres in My Upper Grade Classrooms

I’m plowing through the questions Katie asked, last week, methodically. Here are the two I’m going to answer today:

Which genres do you teach during the year?
Approximately how long do you spend in each genre and how many published pieces do you expect from them at the end of it?

Here’s a list of all of the genres I’ve taught as a fourth and fifth grade teacher, along with an approximate amount of time I’ve spent on each one:
• Small Moment Stories (Launching W.W.): 3 weeks
• Personal Narrative: 4 weeks
• Writer’s Notebooks: 2 – 4 weeks
• Personal Essay: 4 weeks
• Literary Essay: 4 weeks
• Persuasive Letters: 2 – 3 weeks
• Short Fiction: 4 – 5 weeks
• Journalism: 2 – 3 weeks
• Conventions: 4 weeks
• Test-Taking: 2 weeks
• Memoir: 4 weeks
• Poetry: 4 – 6 weeks
• Independent Writing Project: 2 weeks

The items towards the top of my list have tended to come first, while the items at the bottom have tended to come towards the end of the school year. I’ve changed around the placement of literary essay, persuasive letters, and journalism depending on the year, but they usually happen in the winter months.

With the exception of Poetry, Journalism, and an Independent Writing Project, I require each student to publish one piece of writing. Poetry is always done as a portfolio assignment. When I taught a Journalism Unit, which was just once, I recall publishing a class newspaper where each student had 1 – 3 pieces included in the newspaper depending on the “beat” they were assigned to for the unit. An Independent Writing Project’s final product depends on the nature of the project.

3 thoughts on “Genres in My Upper Grade Classrooms

  1. Hi Stacey,

    I’m planning my end of year Summer Reading & Writing Life Units. Can you explain yours and the guidelines that you set for each? I’d love to hear about it! 🙂


  2. Jessica:

    I’m glad they’ve been helpful.

    Memoir is a non-narrative genre that can have elements of personal narrative, or story-telling, in it. I’d consult Zinssner’s THE ART OF WRITING WELL for more information on Memoir. It’s a super book and has a very well-written chapter on Memoir.



  3. These have been some REALLY helpful posts…As a follow up, can you tell me what you think the difference between personal narrative and memoir is?


Comments are closed.