If I had a time machine, this is what I’d tell past me about getting started teaching with text types. Hopefully, these hindsight tips will be useful to some of you.
Find out if your school has a collection of example texts. If not, start one. I’d begin with 10 text types: narrative / chronological report and recount / description / review / non-chronological report / explanation / instruction / biography & autobiography / persuasion / debate & discussion. As well as specifically written examples, it’s a good idea to collect some real-life writing such as leaflets, posters, letters, news reports, magazines, web pages, recipes, adverts, manuals, brochures, menus, reports, diaries and scripts as well as a broad range of fiction genres. You can also download free examples of various text types in a range of formats from the Write Example Free Section here.
Learn from the experts
There’s some great text books and websites around which discuss text types and their features. I’d recommend starting with Alan Peat, Pie Corbett, Sue Palmer and the Literacy for Pleasure website (especially the Literacy for Pleasure Genre Booklets here).
Spot the good ones
Sometimes you might choose a use a poorly written example text, to illicit a specific response from your class or to highlight a teaching point; however, the rest of the time it’s important to use well written texts which model appropriate grammar and deliver on creativity and purpose. There are several questions you can ask to help with this:
Do it yourself
Start writing your own texts – writing not only helps you become familiar with the features of each text type, it can also provide a valuable insight. It was only when writing my own example texts that I realised how much I was asking of the children in my class: to master grammar and punctuation skills while producing creative, interesting pieces of writing is no easy feat. Through writing my own texts, I was able to better understand the challenges facing the children and therefore how to help them overcome their writing difficulties. In my opinon, quality is better than quantity - better to write a short piece which accurately models precsiely pitched sentence structures and language.
Remember that not every text needs to contain all the text type features, and many excellent pieces of writing include styles from more than one text type. Ultimately, it’s about whether a text fulfils its purpose – and that itself can be subjective!