Different Types of Genres

By Zemen Marrugi, M.Ed.

A story’s genre identifies what type of story you are reading, all based on who the characters are and their actions. With that being said, teaching students about the different type of genres can be very confusing. I recommend breaking down the genre categories by Fiction and Non-Fiction. First, I like to teach all of the fiction subgenres since most students will be familiar with the examples I will use like fairytale, mystery, and science fiction. The scaffolding aspect of teaching is always important so since the students are able to connect the new information to prior knowledge, the lesson will run smoother if you start with something they have already mastered.

After the students learn the fiction subgenres, you can then move on to the non-fiction subgenres. Remember to go back and re-teach the previous information throughout the year to make sure they have learned the content and are able to retain the information.

Here are other ways of teaching genres:

1) Book Excerpt Sample: Use excerpts from a variety of different books and have students guess what genre each entry represents. Most importantly, students should be able to example why each book belongs to a specific genre.

2) Book Categories: Students can organize the classroom library by genres.

3) Book Reports: Students can be assigned to do book reports on themed genres. You can assign a different genre every week.

Feel free to print the attached Genre Poster I created for my students as an additional classroom resource.  This post includes a list of all fictional and non-fictional subgenres, along with a desciption of each genres.

Zemen Marrugi Genre Poster


Realistic Fiction

Science Fiction

Historical Fiction




  • Tragedies
  • Comedies

Folklore (Traditional Literature)

  • Fable
  • Fairytale
  • Tall tale
  • Myth
  • Legend


Information Text

  • Pamphlets
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • School textbooks/workbooks
  • Guides
  • Booklets
  • Notes
  • Advice column
  • Newspaper  Editorials




Persuasive Writing


Genre Descriptions

1)    Genre: A genre is the type of story you are reading, all based on who the characters are, the setting, and the characters’ actions during the story.

2)    Realistic Fiction: A realistic fiction story is one that can actually happened in real life, but the characters are make-believe.

Ex: Junie B. Jones

3)    Historical Fiction: A historical fiction story is one that is set during a historical event from the past, but the characters are not real. The characters of historical fiction stories behave and dress just as people would have from that time period.

Ex: Number the Stars

4)    Autobiography: An autobiography is a personal narrative that a person writes about his/her life. Note that the prefix ‘auto’ means self.

Ex: Diary of Anne Frank

5)    Biography: A biography is a story about a person’s life written by another person.

Ex: The Life of Frederick Douglas

6)    Science Fiction (Sci-Fi):  Science fictional stories are based on the just that-science! These are stories that take place on other planets, involve futuristic weapons, aliens, and advanced machinery.

Ex: The movie ‘Back to the Future’

7)    Mystery: The genre of mystery is fictional and revolves around solving some type of crime where the reader is encouraged to put together clues based on what is being read.

Ex: Sherlock Holmes

8)    Fairytale: Fairytale are stories that are told to younger children that include magical creatures and fairies. The Brothers Grimm were two German brothers that collected a ton of different folklore stories centuries ago and recorded stories that were only shared verbally. The theme of number three sometimes reappears throughout fairytales. (3 sisters, 3 pigs, 3 musketeers, etc.)

Ex: Cinderella

9)    Legend: A legend is a story that explains why certain things have come to be the way they are today, all based on information that is passed down by generations. At times, these stories can revolve on a folklore hero.

Ex: Robin Hood

10) Myth: Mythology is a symbolic genre that uses gods and goddess to deliver the meaning behind natural events. Some characters are based on real historical figures.

Ex: Hercules

11) Poetry: Poetry is a form of rhythmic writing that is meant to be represented artistically and draws a passionate response from the audience. Examples can include slam poetry, comedy, drama, epic, sonnet, erotic, nonsense, lyric, mythopoeia, romance, satire, tragedy and tragicomedy.

Ex: Works by Maya Angelo

12) Drama: The genre of drama includes plays that are made to be performed in front of a live audience with the use of dialogue between characters.

Ex: Shakespeare Plays

13) Fable: Fables are stories that are meant to teach a moral lesson, highlighting the difference between right and wrong.

Ex: The Ugly Duckling

14) Horror: Horror stories are fictional and are meant to scare the reader through suspense and creepy scenes.

Ex: Freddy vs. Jason

15) Humor: Stories that fall in the humor genre are fictional and are meant to make the reader laugh. This genre can also be a subgenre in all of the other genres. For example, a character in a mystery book can say a joke that is meant to make the reader laugh.

Ex: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

16) Tall Tale: Tall tales are funny stories that include exaggerated behavior where the character becomes a hero without really trying because the powers come naturally.

Ex: Paul Bunyan

17) Speech: A speech is a public address meant to be recited in front of a live audience.

Ex: “I have a dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

18) Essay: An essay is a short fictional or non-fictional writing that mirrors the author’s outlook or point of view on an issue.

Ex: “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

19) Folklore: The reasons behind the everyday norm that people have come to expect to be a part of their lives. Folklore explains why people do the tings they do because it is the study of people and their everyday lives.

Ex: Detroit’s folklore about hanging shoes from street lights

2o) Fantasy: A fantasy is a story that cannot take place in the real world because in most cases, the location does not exist in the real world. These examples include Middle Earth and Narnia. The problems the characters go through are sometimes not similar to issues people go through in the real world like rescuing a princess.

Ex: The Lord of the Rings

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The Faberge of Today’s Educational System

Faberge Egg

Faberge Egg

By Zemen Marrugi, M.Ed.

As an art enthusiast, going to the Faberge exhibit at the Detroit Institution of the Arts was a no- brainer. Walking through the sections, taking in all of the detail on the precious objects that have mesmerized millions over the past century was exciting. From the Easter egg inspired containers to the delicate crystal vase miniature floral pieces, each item was creatively handcrafted and continues to be admired today. However, it was not until midway through the exhibit that I realized the similarity between the House of Faberge and what should be today’s educational system.

What amazed me most about the House of Faberge was the emphasis on teamwork. Due to their delicate and excessive amount of work, no Faberge item was ever created by one person from start to finish. The company stood strong because each master craftsman had his specific role in contributing to the “masterpieces,” treasures that attracted the attention of the Russian aristocracy.

Just like the Faberge master craftsmen, teachers today need to work together because a success educational career does not happen by just having an accomplished fourth grade teacher. If the overall goal is to have a successful school, then the same amount of commitment to excellence needs to be emphasized by every classroom in a school building.

As a teacher, I know that every individual in a school plays a significant role in developing a student into becoming a respectful, responsible and educated young person. Everyone! From the classroom teacher to the lunch lady, office staff and administration team-every adult in a school system plays a vital role in “crafting” a successful learning environment. More importantly, all of these different entities must have a common ground for expectation in regards to behavior, homework, classroom, instruction, rigor, participation and parental involvement.

The idea of teachers closing their classroom doors and taking care of their own students is a thing of the past because our educational system is not measured by individual classroom performance but a school as whole. Just like the craftsmen as the House of Faberge shared the secrets to their craft with their fellow craftsmen, teachers need to do the same when it comes to sharing best practices with their fellow educators. After all, teaching is an art of its own and there are a lot of great educators out there so let us stop reinventing the wheel and begin leaning on each other for advice, feedback, and resources. The day teachers actually begin seeing the importance of team effort in a school’s overall performance is the day the entire school will succeed in educating every child in the building.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lesson Plans and Bulletin Board

This is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Quiz Bulletin Board I created in front of my class. Students were encouraged to text their knowledge of the content we had learned all week.

This is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Quiz Bulletin Board I created in front of my class. Students were encouraged to text their knowledge of the content we had learned all week.

By Zemen Marrugi, M.Ed.

This week, we will celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As a classroom teacher, I am always passionate to speak about Dr. King’s past and of his contribution to the Civil Rights Movment because he not only paved way for African Americans, but stood as a wonderful example of peace and brotherhood amongst all American.  I put together this lesson plan for my sixth graders and I think the rest of you might enjoy. Feel free to use the information below and my bulletin board design to teach our young people of the significant role Dr. King played to making our great nation what it is today.

Approximate Length of Time: 50-70 minutes

Students will be able to understand the important role Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had on the Civil Rights Movement and why he is still celebrated as one of the most influential people in American history.

1. Students will be able to reflect on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
2. Students will be able to identify why Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life mission for peace and equality is celebrated today.

MLK Lesson Plans by Zemen Marrugi martin luther king jr
Book: Martin’s Big Words, The life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. By Doreen Rappaport
Movie: The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306
The Witness Quiz
Construction paper
Bulletin Board Boarder
Colored envelopes
Favorite MLK Photos
Favorite MLK Quote
Glue Sticks

Anticipatory Set/Hook:
A great way to start this lesson would be to dress up as MLK and begin reciting the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Ask questions like who was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? What role did he play in the Civil Rights movement? Why was the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech so significant?

1) Hook the students’ attention by performing the ‘I have a dream’ speech to them.
2) Read the book Martin’s Big Words, the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport.
3) Watch the movie, The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306 and discuss the role MLK played in the Civil Rights Movement.
4) Give the students an opportunity to complete The Witness quiz.
5) Set up the MLK Quiz Bulletin Board and encourage students to quiz their knowledge.

Why is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remembered today as an important figure of the Civil Rights Movement? What can we do to commemorate the life of MLK?

1) Encourage the students to take the MLK quiz on the bulletin board.
2) Assign the students to complete the Witness worksheet after watching movie, The Witness.

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Teaching about the Presidential Elections

By Zemen Marrugi, M.Ed.

Yesterday, I started my Social Studies lesson with the question, “Is there a possibility that a Romney/Biden Administration can get inaugurated in January, 2013? If so, how?” I told the students to pounder on the question and to write their reflection on their papers. I was so impressed with all of the answers my students gave me.

I gave each student a ‘I voted’ sticker after our mock elections in class. They were very proud to voice their opinion and vote for their favorite candidate.

As a class, we have been huge fans of the Presidential Elections. We watched all three Presidential debates and analyzed the candidates’ behavior, response, and debating skills. We discussed the role of the popularity vote and the Electoral College and how the two influence the Presidential Elections. We read magazine articles on the different candidates and compared their tickets. Last year, my students even compared the four remaining Republican candidates and made our predictions on who was going to make it to Tampa, FL in August for the Republican National Convention. We also discussed the possibility of having a split vote in the Electoral College and what would happen if each candidate did receive 269 votes. As a teacher, I was so impressed with my students’ ability to have such educated feedback when so many higher-order thinking questions were tossed at them.

As the campaign trails come to an end, it is very important for educators to bring the role of the elections in the classroom. Having the students watch the debates and discuss them in the classrooms not only brought the curriculum to life, but also increased parental partnership because there were so many households where the parents watched the debates with their children. That powerful classroom that took place in their living rooms made the lessons even more productive because the information was reiterated by their parents and the students took ownership of the information they learned by sharing their opinion.

I have truly enjoyed following this year’s presidential elections with my students and encourage all educators, despite grade level, to always think outside the box when it comes to teaching. When your classes resume tomorrow, talk to your students about your voting experience and ask them questions about their relatives’ voting experience on Election Day. All depending on the age level, you can even discuss the different types of voting ballots from absentee to day of elections. Have a mock election where each student can vote for their favorite candidate. Make it fun, educational, and mostly importantly, relate the curriculum to the role it plays in their everyday lives. Here are some other ideas of how to incorporate the elections into your curriculum.

Lower Elementary

  • Students can color patriotic pages
  • Students can write friendly letters to local, state and federal election winners

Upper Elementary

  • Students can compare the popularity votes between states
  • Students can discuss the role negative advertisements played in the elections

Middle School

  • Students can review all of the different proposals and make predictions on why certain proposals were not passed
  • Students can discuss the role of the Electoral College and how the numbers are allocated between states

High School

  • Students can review a sample voting ballot from their local district and discuss how larger ballots can impact a voter’s frustration at the polls
  • Students can discuss why so much campaigning took place in the Swing States

To answer the question I asked my students yesterday-Yes, a Romney/Biden Administration can get inaugurated in January, 2013. To have this take place, an exact even split of 269 Electoral votes must first go to each candidates. The decision would then be sent to Congress with the Senate deciding on the President and the House of Representative deciding on the Vice-President. This means that the Senate can pick either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, while the House of Representative can pick either Joe Biden or Paul Ryan. This may result in either a Romney/Biden or Obama/Ryan Administration to be inaugurated in January, 2013. My students loved learning about this law

Teaching is always so much fun!

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Science Bulletin Boards

By Zemen Marrugi, M. Ed.

As a classroom teacher, I am always interested in creatively displaying my students’ work. Here are three different types of Science bulletin board I created for my classroom that you may find helpful to use in your classroom. Remember, productive bulletin boards catch the students’ attention with a colorful and original layout, engages them in the content and proudly affirms their individual work.

I designed this bulletin board to creatively display a cross-curriculum assignment I had my students work on in Reading and Science.

I painted this full wall display in the hallway because I wanted all of the students in the grade level to predict what our next unit was going to be about in Science. Needless to say, they were not only on point with the predictions, but also very enthusiastic about the content we were going to learn.

I made this bulletin board at the beginning of an ecosystem unit. The display was a great way to remind the students the important role photosynthesis played in the environment.


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By Zemen Marrug, M.Ed.

After last week’s Presidential Debate, there were a lot of people that got offended at the thought of anyone criticizing President Barack Obama’s debating skills.  However, the truth is that President Obama did not bring his A-Game to the platform and I am so glad to hear him poke fun at his own debating skills because it shows that he, too, has high expectation on himself and is prepared to grow as a leader.

This is a great example of self-efficacy because having high expectation on ourselves is more vital than any hope anyone else has for us.  To truly succeed, we must always be open to constructive feedback- no matter how good we think we are at our craft. We need to always aim high, but at the same time, be willing to look at our abilities and honestly answer the question, “How can I improve my own skills?” After all, having a goal set will lead to many disappointments if we are not willing to accept the idea of growth from every experience.

Self-efficacy is what drives a frontrunner to lead million through journeys unimaginable by others. So, whether you are an average Joe, an elementary school teacher or the President of the United States of America; everyone should be willing to self-evaluate his or her own skills and always be willing to grow and soar to new heights.

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Classroom Bulletin Boards

This sentence express bulletin board creatively displayed our student work.

By Zemen Marrugi, M.Ed.

As you prepare your classroom for the new academic year, here are a few things to keep in mind regarding your classroom bulletin boards.

Front of the Classroom Bulletin Boards

The bulletin boards in the front of the room need to contain information that will be changed or updated on a consistent basis. The information on these boards will be frequently viewed by the student so you want them to be fresh and relevant to the current curriculum. In the past, the front bulletin boards in the front of my classrooms have been covered with word walls, parts of speech and even  concept/question (Open Court).

Middle of the Classroom/Side Walls Bulletin Boards

The bulletin boards that are on the side of the classroom can display poster boards that contain information regarding the content that is being taught during that specific month. These bulletin boards should be updated once a month. The side bulletin boards can also display a data board that displays target academic scores or at grade level proficiency expectation.

Back of the Classroom Bulletin Boards

The bulletin boards on the back of the classroom can display great examples of student work or an Effort Creates Ability concept that displays student work that has demonstrated great amount of improvement over a certain period of time.  You can also display a current news bulletin board here and give students the opportunity to bring in news clippings of material that is discussed in the classroom.

Outside the Classroom Bulletin Boards

Make the decor on these bulletin boards more seasonal and creative so that it not only grabs the attention of your students, but for every other student, teacher, parent and visitor that walks through that hallway. Artistically display student work on these bulletin boards, while providing formative feedback on how they can improve their work.

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