Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

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How to Teach Recounts in English Class
By:Erin Schreiner

Recounts are purportedly factual accounts of events from those who actively participated in the occurrences. Students are often interested in recounts because they provide a voyeuristic opportunity to look into an event in which the student was not a participant. When teaching the recount genre to your students, you can use the lessons to encourage them to think critically about information and explore the reliability of the account as a whole. This practice promotes the development of critical thinking skills and careful consideration of both the text and the subtext of a written work.

Define the recount genre. Students can not begin to learn the common elements of recounts if they do not understand what a recount is. Explain to students that a recount is a firsthand telling of an event from the point of view of the writer.

Read a grade level appropriate example of a recount. Many literature books contain recounts, if yours doesn't, look for a collection of personal narratives or firsthand short stories written at your students' academic level.

Discuss the purpose. Author's purpose is an important element of any recount. Discuss the author's reason for writing about the event with your students.

Explore how the age, gender and socioeconomic status of the author affects the recount. The information that you receive from a recount, and the way in which that information is shared, depends heavily on who the writer is. Look at recounts from different individuals and discuss how the recount style and content differs depending upon who wrote it.

Consider the reliability of the narrator. Explain to students that, in recounts, not all information should be trusted. Discuss the factors that influence narrator reliability, such as agenda and affiliations. Decide whether the author should be believed in each recount you read with your students.

Read recounts of the same event from different points of view and compare the accounts. Use a Venn diagram to complete the comparison. Discuss elements that are similar, as well as those that are different. Ask students to decide which recount is likely most truthful and explain the reasons behind their accuracy decision.

Engage students in the composition of their own recounts. Tell each student to select an event of importance to describe in a detail. Ask students to base their recount upon the recounts that they have read in class.







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