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Beyond "What I Did on Vacation": Exploring the Genre of Travel Writing

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Beyond "What I Did on Vacation": Exploring the Genre of Travel Writing

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Drew Schrader

Bloomington, Indiana


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, students are introduced to the genre of travel writing. After reading and analyzing short examples and discussing conventions of the genre, students engage in some guided travel writing activities. They brainstorm events and/or personal experiences that might make a fun piece of travel writing and select one event for freewriting. They then turn their notes into a travel article, using a list of characteristics of good travel writing to assess their writing as they work. They peer review and revise drafts of their writing before publishing it using an online multigenre tool.

This scalable lesson can be completed in a few days as a short mini-unit, before a school break as a chance for students to do some real world writing, or over a longer period of time as an extended unit with integrated research.

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In her book Thinking Through Genre, Heather Lattimer discusses genre study as "an inquiry into text form" (4). One of the ways to help students see the structural and rhetorical features of a piece of writing is to immerse them in the study of various genres. By studying a wide array of genres, students are better able to see the many decisions a writer makes as a matter of purpose, audience, and form or genre, rather than as arbitrary teacher-established rules. Lattimer suggests, "A genre study is not about reading a particular text; individual texts are read and discussed for the purpose of developing strategies of comprehension appropriate for the genre" (4). Dean states, "Even if we can't develop the full contextual aspect of some genres because of the restrictions of the classroom situation, it is helpful for students to know that not all writing is the same. They can learn the concept of genres." (45) By reading and writing in new genres, students gain strategies for reading new kinds of texts as well as insights into different ways of producing texts.

Further Reading

Lattimer, Heather. 2003. Thinking Through Genre. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.


Dean, Deborah. Genre Theory: Teaching, Writing, and Being. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2008.

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