Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 7: One stop genre reference guide coming right up!

I've recently realized that the shutterfold is my new best friend. It's one of the simpler folds, but so incredibly functional and versatile that it lends itself to just about everything. A square piece of paper which we shutter folded in opposite directions was the foundation of the display boxes we created on the first day. As a fold, it's really a confidence builder for the kids - easy to make and difficult to mess up.

Genre guide pasted into notebook
To make a shutterfold you start by matching up the corners of a sheet of paper (this can be done either hamburger or hotdog style depending on your desired outcome). Once you've done that you "pinch" the middle where you would normally fold the paper and then open the paper back up. This gives you a small crease in the center of the paper which then becomes your guideline of where you will fold the edges in. What you end up with is a larger center section and then two slightly narrower sides that meet at the middle like window shutters. 

Any topic that can be thought of in two parts - before and after, prime and composite, are perfect for a shutterfold. But in my case, what came immediately to mind was fiction and non-fiction. Fifth graders arrive in my room with a good bit of reading knowledge, but a lot of misconceptions about things as well - particularly in terms of understanding book genres. So at the beginning of the year I pull about 50 or so books out of my classroom library and then separate them into stacks of ten or so which I divide up between groups of students. As a class we brainstorm a list of genres, but don't talk about specific characteristics. Then I challenge the students to classify the books into those genres - labeling the stacks with post-its. After they've done so, the students rotate around in groups changing post-its if they disagree until eventually they come back to their own table. This generates a lot of good discussion and ultimately we create a list with clear descriptions of what each genre entails. Instead of recording this on chart paper as I've done in the past, this year I thought it would be more helpful for each student to have their own reference guide - enter the shutterfold.

Close up of genre guide with tabs open
We made a shutterfold and then turned it horizontal and folded into fifths. We labeled one column non-fiction and the other fiction. We then wrote individual genres on each row. In the center under the flap we made a heading labeled, "What it looks like." On the other side of the flap students wrote book titles to serve as examples. Now students have a guide in their balanced literacy notebook which can be added to over the course of the year - and much LESS of an excuse for putting classroom library books back in the wrong place!

I've added some pictures of our work to some of my earlier posts which will hopefully help clarify my descriptions a bit. 

Happy weekend all!

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