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One Topic, Different Genres: Many Possibilities!

Early in the school year, we ask our students to think about the topics that are close to their hearts. Lists, sketches, heart maps, photograph inspiration- all of these are ways for students to brainstorm the topics they want to write about. But do our students know they can write about these topics in different genres and styles?

In my post, Launching Writing Workshop with Passion and Purpose I shared how I planned to write about the topic of “roller coasters” from different genres. My goal was to show students how they can take a topic that interests them, or matters to them, and write about it in multiple ways. I also wanted to introduce students to the different forms of writing we would be learning about during the year.

As this post goes live, it is only my second day of school with my students. But I’ve drafted pieces of writing to share with them in this first writing unit, where I am introducing that we write about what matters to us and our writing can take different forms.

Narrative: I plan to share with students a Slice of Life blog post I wrote about going on a roller coaster with my family this summer. I will share with them that “narrative” means story and it has a beginning, middle and end. A narrative can include dialogue and sometimes has a lesson the character learns. I will also introduce the form of blogging to my students and share how I blog about all different topics that matter to me, but mostly my family and teaching.

Informational: I am going to share with my students that I had a lot of questions about roller coasters. I created a list of wonders using Buncee.

I can explain how I could research to find the answers to these questions and then find a way to share my information- a book, infographic, poster, etc.

I also created a “How to” Google Slide presentation, where I attempted humor and voice.

Argument: My students write persuasive speeches as one of our final units of writing. In the past, I did not introduce this type of writing until closer to when I was teaching it, usually in the spring. I think presenting persuasive writing as a possibility earlier in the year will help students have a more solid understanding of why they might choose this genre.


Poetry:  I tried a formulaic poem and a free verse poem to share with my students. A cinquain is an accessible poem for third graders and can help them think about the way words are categorized (adjectives, verbs, synonyms). I want students to know that poems don’t have to be about plugging words into formulas, so I created a free verse poem as well.


By sharing how one topic could be written about in various ways, I hope to show my students the many choices they have as writers. Not only can they choose their topic, but they can choose how they will write about their topic. A subject that matters to them can be returned to and revisited across many different forms.

How do you introduce different types of writing to your students?

6 thoughts on “One Topic, Different Genres: Many Possibilities!

  1. Oh my, what a great job you did explaining how to write in the various ways about the same topic! This is good for all writers. I agree that introducing persuasive writing early is valuable. You have definitely encouraged me to try this in my writing.


  2. I adore the fact that you’re showing students how to stick with a topic across genres. That’s something I often see squashed since some folks think that kids need to have more topics. In all honesty, we all have a few life topics that we can write about again and again in different ways. Being able to write across genres, about the same thing, is actually quite complex and important!

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  3. This is perfect! It make me wish I was back in the classroom with my fifth graders. It would be so much fun to see what a group of students would do with this over a year of writing. I must say it also makes me wish I was in your classroom learning along with your students. What a fun place to be with so many good ideas to help students become confident, strong writers.

    Thanks for all your work! Good Job!

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