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Writing and reading different types of texts requires a complex set of skills. Writing in a specific genre requires using genre-appropriate Vocabulary and Syntax and knowing and including the key genre elements in a logical order. Learning how to fully understand the information they read across these genres also requires a deep understanding of the genre-specific qualities that upper elementary students must develop.
There are several different genres students need to master to be successful writers and readers, and each includes its own structure, tone, Vocabulary, and Syntax based on our culture's genre conventions. There are two main genre categories.
Narrative writing tells a story and includes a setting, main character(s), initiating event, internal plan, attempts to carry out the plan, outcome, and reaction of character(s).
Expository writing provides information with the goal of educating the reader. Some forms of expository writing include:
As students' studies in the upper elementary years and beyond include more reading to learn in different content areas, it is important for children to master the skills they need to read different types of expository texts. Knowledge of these genres helps strengthen both reading and writing skills. Successfully reading and composing texts from each of these genres requires knowledge of the appropriate macrostructure and microstructure. Macrostructure is the organization and inclusion of important genre elements for each composition type. At this age, microstructure includes properly learning and using academic language including a diverse Vocabulary and complex Syntax.
Physically acting out a text enhances reading comprehension.
Advance graphic organizers link prior knowledge to upcoming learning to help students anticipate and understand the structure of new information.
Audiobooks allow students to hear fluent reading and to experience books above their reading skills.
Writing can become personally meaningful when students have an actual audience and a real purpose for communicating with that audience.
Students practice making and finding meaning in their reading through a book club model.
Checklists and rubrics help students develop their abilities to self-assess and revise their writing.
When peers are able to work together to plan, draft, edit, and revise their compositions, their writing quality improves.
Expressing ideas through visuals and audio, and understanding others' ideas in these forms, is as critical in today's world as traditional reading and writing.
Students activate more cognitive processes by exploring and representing their understandings in visual form.
Daily review strengthens previous learning and can lead to fluent recall.
When teachers provide explicit instruction in comprehension strategies and model when to use them, students learn how to flexibly apply them to make meaning of texts.
Explicitly teaching strategies for different genres, like narrative or persuasive writing, helps students write for different purposes and audiences.
Research shows that, along with traditional reading comprehension strategies, students use unique strategies to read the non-linear, hyperlinked structure of online texts.
When students explain their thinking process aloud, they recognize the strategies they use and solidify their understanding.
Providing constructive feedback supports students' writing development by letting them know how to improve their writing.
Adding gestures and motions to complement learning activates more cognitive processes for recall and understanding.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens their recall.
In guided inquiry, teachers help students use their own language for constructing knowledge by active listening and questioning.
Spending time with new content helps move concepts and ideas into Long-term Memory.
Independent reading promotes literacy by emphasizing student choice with teacher support in selecting books, as well as by making time for free reading.
Practicing until achieving several error-free attempts is critical for retention.
Journaling allows students to reflect on their thinking and feelings, process their learning, and connect new information to what they know.
Full sentence manipulatives allow students to practice producing more complex Syntax and writing.
Creating patterns for remembering classroom processes, narrative structures, etc.
By talking through their thinking at each step of a process, teachers can model what learning looks like.
Instruction in multiple formats allows students to activate different cognitive skills to understand and remember the steps they are to take in their literacy work.
Helping students think about what they know about the topic of upcoming work helps activate their Background Knowledge or reveals gaps.
When students read models of the type of writing they are doing, they can identify effective elements to incorporate in their writing.
Reading aloud regularly exposes students to new and familiar Vocabulary and texts.
Reading aloud books about skills children are learning provides another model for their development.
Through one-on-one conferences, teachers can provide individual support to each student to deepen comprehension and interest in reading.
Students build their confidence, strategy use, and comprehension by reading and rereading books.
Books for vision differences support reading development for learners with visual needs.
Reading materials of varying complexity and levels are necessary for all students to experience success.
Multicultural and diverse books are critical for supporting all students.
Providing varied types of resources that align with interests of individual students supports overall literacy development.
With figurative language and creative sentence structure, poetry supports the development of a deeper understanding of the different ways language makes meaning.
Books on social and emotional learning (SEL) topics, such as developing empathy and productive persistence, help teach these skills.
When students engage in a dialogue with themselves, they are able to orient, organize, and focus their thinking.
When students monitor their comprehension, performance, and use of strategies when reading and writing, they build their Metacognition.
Sentence frames or stems provide language support for students' writing and participation in academic discussions.
Providing a story map ahead of time or having students create a map during or after reading helps learners understand and expand their Genre Knowledge.
Bringing students' every day literacy practice of texting into the classroom provides regular, low-stakes practice communicating with authentic audiences.
Transforming written text into audio supports learning by activating different parts of a learner's brain for comprehension.
Writing conferences allow students to share, reflect on, and receive feedback about their writing, which promotes Motivation for revising.
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