Genre Awareness Low Stakes Assignments

What are some strategies or low-stakes assignments you might use to teach your students what genre is, and how and why we move between genres in order to reach our audiences and achieve our desired outcomes? Try to think of strategies that you might be able to use online.

I actually found this great in-class genre exercise from the FSU Composition site Robert suggested in January. I tried this exercise in both my 1101 and 1121 classes this semester. It was a fun way to engage the class and get them thinking about genre. I tweaked the 1121 class lesson plan by adding in a discussion and analysis of multimodal genres. In both classes I started the class by asking them to define genre and how they came up with that definition.  I gave them five minutes to write the response and told them we can share the responses after class. After they finished writing I asked the class to name genres of films. Once we had six genres on the board, I broke the class up into six groups (the average size of the group was 4). I asked the group to answer these four questions about their film genre. (I lifted these questions from the FSU lesson plan)

  1. Genre: What are the conventions of your group’s movie genre?
  2. Audience: Who watches this type of movie?
  3. Audience Expectation: What does an audience expect to experience/feel/learn/see from this genre?
  4. Evidence: Provide 3 examples of movies that fit this type and explain why they fit.

I moved the conversation to writing and we talked about genres of writing, asking the class if a poster, text, letter, instruction manual, etc. was a genre? And why? We filled the board with a long list of genres.

I asked the class to answer the original question about genre that I had written on the board again, and if there were any difference between the first response and the second, and if so, what they were. The class shared a few responses and we had a short class discussion. We also discussed subgenre and about rhetoric and genre.

After we completed this exercise, I handed out copies of Dirk’s reading, which was the assigned reading for the next class. The students referred to the exercise in both their writing responses and the following class discussion on the Dirk reading. I have been thinking of how I could do this online. I might try to break this into a series of discussion posts, with three people working together in groups to answer the questions about their assigned genre.


Why I think this exercise worked–I think starting a discussion with a subject the class is familiar with (like film) helped the students understand the broader concept of genre and the role of the audience.

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