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Lesson Plan

Genre Study: A Collaborative Approach

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Genre Study: A Collaborative Approach

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Introduction: 45 minutes; thereafter: 45 minutes per session
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One: Opening Activity

Session Two: Introduce the Project

Session Three: Group Discussion


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • identify literary elements of common genres.

  • experience and develop interest in literature, which includes multicultural, gender, and ethnic diversity.

  • improve comprehension by interpreting, analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating written text in order to categorize text into literary genres.

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Session One: Opening Activity

  1. Begin the conversation with the students by asking, "What is a genre?" There will be varied responses!

  2. Introduce the genres that the students will be working with. In our case, it is historical fiction, realistic fiction, science fiction/fantasy, and mystery.

  3. Using the names of the genres, have the students tell you what components are in each genre-looking at character, plot, setting, etc. It would be beneficial to use chart paper to keep a record.

  4. Then, discuss with the students the major components of the genres. What makes a book fantasy instead of realistic fiction? You can either share the Genre Characteristics handout, or elicit the information and have the students record information as it is gathered.

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Session Two: Introduce the Project

  1. Set the targets for the students - what will they be doing in this project?

    1. The students will be introduced to a genre.

    2. They will be given a choice of books from that genre, and also given a Book Review handout, which focuses students' attention on the elements of the story.

    3. The students are also given a Genre Characteristics handout that is created by the class or themselves with three major components of that genre.

    4. They will have three weeks to read the book, complete the "review," and add details to their bookmarks.
  2. Explain the information that is gathered on the Book Review handout--major literary elements (plot, character, setting, etc.) as well as critique. Students can complete their reviews in their reader's notebooks, or can complete their reviews online using the Genre Group Book Review Chart student interactive.

  3. Demonstrate the interactive, showing students how to add items to the chart as well as how to print and save their work:

    1. On the first screen, type your name.

    2. Click Next to move to the chart screen and type your book review.

    3. Type your answers in each of the rows, using the information on the Genre Group Book Review handout.

    4. Demonstrate that writing is not limited to the size of the box shown on screen. Answers will scroll.

    5. When you've finished writing your responses, click Finish at the top of the screen.

    6. In the next window, click Print. Your answers will be displayed in a Web browser window.

    7. To print answers, choose the Print command from the File menu. To save your answers, choose the Save As... command from the File menu. Students can open the file later in a Web editor or a word processor that imports HTML (such as Microsoft Word or AppleWorks).

    8. Show students that the instructions for using the tool are available by clicking Instructions at the top of the screen.

  4. Pass out the customized bookmarks and demonstrate how to fill in the information on them, using one of the books you've gathered for the project. The bookmarks are customized for each of the given genres. On the front of the bookmark, there is a space for the students to write the title, author, and their name as well as to recreate the book jacket or draw a scene from their favorite passage. On the back, there will be a bulleted list of components of that genre. Next to each of the bullets, the students will be asked to write a page number showing where in their book the elements were illustrated.

  5. Answer any questions that students have about the project. Since they will be working independently, make sure that they understand the activity before concluding the session.

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Session Three: Group Discussion

  1. After the three weeks, gather the students to discuss the books that they read.

  2. Ask students to share brief summaries of their books (without revealing the ending!). Then, ask them to share their book reviews and bookmarks, which include page numbers of passages from the books that illustrate why they fit into that genre.

  3. The bookmarks can be hung up with the chart describing the genres to further illustrate their characteristics.

  4. (optional) End the discussion with a book swap. Students are often anxious to read the books that their peers had talked about, so take the opportunity for them to share their books with others in the group.

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You are sure to be a hit when exploring comics as a genre. See the ReadWriteThink lesson Comics in the Classroom as an Introduction to Genre Study.

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  • Initially, students can demonstrate their ability to identify the elements of a particular genre in the group setting unless the Genre Characteristics handout is used. Otherwise the teacher can check completed bookmarks and book reviews to determine whether the students were able to find passages in the texts to support particular characteristics.

  • To measure how successfully you expanded students’ reading interests, keep track of the books read by the students during the instructional part of the genre study as well as the “book swapping” that occurred at the end.

  • The quality of each student's contributions in the group chart making to observe understanding of genre characteristics can give the teacher insight into each reader's ability. For example:
  1. Does the student retell the story using details listed in the book? For example, the character had a magic wand.
  2. Or

  3. Does the reader put together several details and synthesize the information to come to the conclusions that he/she presents?

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