When searching through my classmates' blogs for this week's entry, I came across a lot of very insightful writing. Jamie S.'s blog entry #9 particularly interested me, and I thought she discussed some great ways to use the expository genre in the classroom. She talked about how her current classroom combined the science and writing units together. The students had to research the topic of weather (focusing specifically on one topic that interested them that had to do with weather) and collect data to put into a graphic organizer. Jamie said: "I found that students who struggled with writing really enjoyed this expository writing because it was really scaffolded to their needs. So often students whine that they have nothing to write about or that they have writer's block. This unit on weather allowed students to do their own exploration through reading, formulate ideas, record, and then transfer the facts they'd learned into writing." I thought the use of the graphic organizer was an excellent way to focus their attention and help to scaffold instruction. I encounter this issue nearly every day with my students -- they insist that they have nothing to write about and nothing to say. If you provide them with a graphic organizer to fill up with data that they collect, then they already have ideas written down before they even begin writing. All they have to do is transfer those facts into writing. It's a very structured way for them to learn about a particular topic, as well as to engage in the expository genre.
Jamie also brought up some interesting ways to expose students to different genres. She discussed the differences between the expository and biographical genres -- the two are very similar, but they still have some varying characteristics which may confuse students. The fact is, students are not exposed to a wide variety of genres and explicitly taught what each one is. Jamie says: "One way to teach this is to use multiple sources that allow students to compare and contrast different versions of expository texts with one another, and the same with the biography genre. If students are able to explore the differences between one genre, they will be able to better understand the multi-dimensionality of it and come to grasp the defining characteristics that differentiate it from other genres." These are great ideas, and I really loved how she used the term "multi-dimensionality" to describe the genre. The best way for students to learn the different characteristics of each is to look at different versions of the same genre and see which characteristics are always present, and which are not. Once students have a good grasp on the characteristics of each individual genre, then they can start comparing/contrasting to how each one relates to others. I truly think that exposing them to a wide variety of genres and texts will benefit students greatly -- even just seeing it and being able to physically look at it would be helpful, and would add to their understanding.