Writing Magic - Switching Genres!

The final term of the school year provides an excellent opportunity for students to revisit a genre explored earlier. They could rework a piece of writing published earlier in the year or rework a writing piece in a different genre than was originally attempted. I.e. non- fiction piece could be transformed into a realistic fiction piece, a poem, a play, a fiction piece. The possibilities are many. Such a study provides students with an opportunity to develop the understanding that one writing idea can be represented in different forms. It also allows students to progress further in their understanding of how writing is a fluid form of communication.

To begin, ask students to consider questions such as:
• What genre are you most comfortable writing?
• Which of your previously published writing pieces would you like to revisit?
• What does changing the genre of a piece allow you, the author, to do?

We can provide student writers with an opportunity to demonstrate through writing, a working knowledge of the two genres selected for this project. The aim in creating a new piece of writing is to retain elements similar to the original theme, using a different genre.

As writing teachers we can support students by:
• Activating prior knowledge about genre switching.
• Immersing students in a discussion (whole class/small group) that reviews the various genres covered in writing across the school year. Scanning their writer’s notebook/writing folio is a logical place for students to begin.
• Providing models of writing about the same topic /idea across a range of genres.
• Providing models of genre switch Example –Narrative to play. Non –fiction piece to imaginative writing.
• Brainstorming ways that genre switches can be achieved

I would be keen to know if a student is able to write an effective piece that demonstrates a genre switch. Can they incorporate a range of literary elements and specific vocabulary in their new piece?

In my planning I would need to consider if the models provided were appropriate for student learning to occur. I would also need to provide examples from my own writing where I have written about the same ideas across more than one genre. I would need to clearly demonstrate the code switch that has occurred in my writing. I would ask my students to compare and contrast my writing pieces.

Another consideration would be the delivery of my explicit teaching focus. In all likelihood I would have a number of groups and therefore my teaching focus would be small group and individual more so than whole class.

How do I relate this study to authentic writing purposes? Well, think of how adaptations take place quite commonly. A poem transformed into a song or a longer narrative. A story can be transformed into a play, or a screenplay. The classic poem by A B Paterson, ‘The Man from Snowy River’, became a screenplay and a movie. Genre switches are quite common.

Finally, as part of my evaluation of this writing study, I would need to ask myself- Has the learning sequence used in the planned study, supported students in gaining a clearer understanding of this form of writing?

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