Which trait do YOU teach following ideas? There is NO wrong answer to this question. At the same time, you have a chance to build a strong writing foundation by teaching organization (you may prefer to call it design) next. Why? Because a strong design makes writing easier. Writers who know what they’re creating (a letter, a picture book) get a mental image of the finished product that helps drive the writing. That makes your introduction to organization an outstanding time to talk about genre. That’s where design really begins. After all, novels, greeting cards, legal contracts, brochures, and movie scripts are all organized pretty differently. Consider the range of possible design structures you could open in your students’ minds just by collecting written materials in an array of genres. Also consider how intriguing that would make this trait that’s sometimes considered–let’s be honest–a little dry. It isn’t! (Especially for writers who are encouraged to write in various genres–to stretch beyond the two-page essay. Designing a document is as fascinating–and challenging–as designing a vacation, wedding, new house, or back yard party. Start with genre and see how exciting this second trait can be. You’ll also find that other organizational features you want to discuss–such as leads or conclusions–are more interesting, less predictable, and far more exciting to share if everyone in the class is working on something a little different. Genre also affects voice, of course–more about this in an upcoming post.

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