Some of the best lesson plans are those that span over the course of many months. They build on concepts, helping students to develop learning strategies along the way. You may have a certain project or lesson that sticks out in your memory. Was it a one-off worksheet, or an intensive project that required your time, attention, and knowledge? Maybe it was a science fair or commerce fair that required physical effort as well as mental. Perhaps you even still have a Creative Writing journal in which you responded to prompts and jotted down poetry each day. Long-term projects have a way of sticking with you, because you invested so much time and revisited them often. Implementing an independent literary genres program in your classroom is a great way to tap into the magic of long-term projects!
Benefits of Long-Term Projects
These types of projects are not only memorable, but they also really help the learning process. Your class can form a strong foundation on which to build a repertoire of information about a topic. There are so many options to grow a long-term project, planting a little seed in a notebook or binder and watering it faithfully, offering it love and sunshine, watching it grow throughout the year. Long-term projects also offer the opportunity for assessment and self-reflection as one can tangibly measure their progress over time.
When teaching literary genres in the ELA classroom, you may realize how immense the learning can be! There are many different literary genres, including historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, realistic fiction, informational, biography, and more. Just briefly teaching these seven genres would be a huge time investment. And, your students may feel information overload if you call them out like a laundry list. Instead, by committing a small but frequent time investment into this lesson, you can spread the knowledge out over the course of the year. Students can start with the basics, building a strong foundation. Then, they can delve deeper into certain topic areas that interest them most. They can grow that foundation of knowledge in droves! An Independent Literary Genres Program is the perfect way to capitalize on that long-term structure.
What is an Independent Literary Genres Program?
An Independent Literary Genres Program encompasses a few different activities, and offers many opportunities for your students to familiarize themselves with the literary genres. By assigning one genre every month and dedicating time and effort to each genre as a separate entity, students can gain familiarity without the intimidation factor. This program allows students to move through the genres in stages, offering pre-reading exercises, guided book reports, and creative book projects. By implementing this as a year-long program instead of a one-time assignment, students can get comfortable with reading, writing, and understanding different literary genres.
Try implementing this program with your first genre of choice, step by step:
- Genre introduction: Teach students about the genre.
- Tracker and due dates: Have students choose their book and start a tracker to guide them through the program.
- Pre-reading: Students can analyze covers and descriptions about their book before reading.
- Book report: Using the two-page guided book report, students can summarize the book and highlight important details.
- Creative project: Students complete a creative project about the book, like a timeline or diorama.
- Classroom share: Allow students the opportunity to share their project with the class (or in small groups).
- Wrap-up: As a class, discuss the genre from a new perspective.
Then, after debriefing, you can move on to the next genre! Some teachers may do one genre a month or every six weeks. You could even try spreading out the activities so they last the duration of a month. You may assign two weeks for the pre-reading, reading, and book report, and then two weeks for project completion. Students will appreciate a format that allows them time to “recover” between books.
Try the Independent Literary Genres Program in Your Classroom!
By the end of the year, students will have a thorough understanding of the different genres. They’ll also have tons of practice reading and writing book reports! Without overloading them all at once, the long-term format of the Independent Literary Genres Program allows students to learn at a slower pace and cultivate some strong skills along the way. By keeping all of their assignments in a central binder or folder, they can look back on their progress at any time, and can reflect on everything they’ve learned at the end of the year. The Independent Literary Genres Program can be modified in so many ways that it’s the perfect addition to any English Language Arts curriculum. You can purchase the outline, along with all assignment pages, worksheets, and even a project rubric, on Teachers Pay Teachers!