Whether you're a fan of the common core or not, it has definitely defined three different text types and how we need to teach our students to structure their writing pieces.
The common core outlined the following text types: Narrative Writing, Opinion Writing and Informational Writing. Within each of those text types, you can find a great variety of writing genres including narrative poetry, informational books and articles, fictional narratives, opinion letters, essays and literary essays. But the structure generally stays consistent for every genre.
I have found that if students know these structures, literally like the back of their hand, they are well on their way to becoming successful writers!
ALL text types have this basic structure:
INTRO - BODY - CONCLUSION
The intro and conclusion are consistent in all text types but the body will vary. I like to use a graphic organizer to help my students remember the structure of each text type....one that is always with them wherever they go...THEIR HAND!
Here are the basic structures that I teach for each text type:
I look for these structures when I analyze their on-demand writing prompts, and will form strategy groups based upon who demonstrates these structures in their pieces and who does not. During every lesson, I will have students put up their hands and tell me these structures by pointing at each finger on their hand and stating the parts. I print out enlarged versions of these hand posters and post them in my classroom.
It seems redundant and even silly, but my kiddos KNOW THESE STRUCTURES, and they have become much better writers as a result. When they are asked to write something, they know how to set it up and they can then focus on the "good parts" of their pieces....the details, dialogue, reasons with evidence, examples, facts, etc.
Knowing these structures (like the back of their hand) sets them up for successful paragraph writing as well! They realize early on that each "finger" represents a new paragraph. I use this same "hand" to teach them how to write a good paragraph...after all, the organization is the same in a good paragraph...topic sentence, supporting sentences, concluding sentence.
In the past I have used a similar teaching strategy...using a hamburger (you know the one). But this is so much better...because they ALWAYS have their hand....but the hamburger...well it just makes them hungry!
If you would like a copy of these posters, you can grab them for free HERE! Also, you can find them in my Common Core Writing Mentor Text Kit, which also contains some great examples of each text type, along with some really helpful graphic organizers to put in your students' writing folders!