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Multigenre Writing: Beyond the Essay

Andrew Adams decided to move away from a traditional essay assignment to give his grade eight students a new experience with multigenre writing. In this project the students wrote a variety of genres (personal narratives, dialogues, interview transcripts, journal entries, letter, emails, text messages, poetry, notes, etc.) around a theme that came out of their day-to-day school experience.

 

 

Immersion

In groups students :

  • read, analyze and discuss a variety of multigenre texts (Multigenre text analysis chart)
  • identify the genres used
  • consider how the genres work together to support the theme of the piece
  • brainstorm additional genres that could have been used effectively
  • make connections to their own writing by considering how they might use some of these new understandings about multigenre writing to create their own text for a specific purpose and audience
  • discover/learn about the codes and conventions of the genres they are to write.
 

 

Preproduction

As students plan their own multigenre text they :

  • brainstorm themes related to their school experiences that are important to them and that they want to communicate to an audience of peers, e.g. school rules, use of technology, discipline, etc.
  • decide on the purpose for their piece e.g. to inform, persuade, argue, express a point of view, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

  • brainstorm different genres that could be used to explore those themes
  • think about how each genre works within the context of their theme and narrow down the types of texts that would be appropriate for their own project
  • explore the codes and conventions of the texts to be used in the paper
  • write an initial draft of the genre pieces to be used in the paper 
  • read and respond to each other’s work

Production

After receiving feedback, students rework their drafts into finished pieces of writing.

Postproduction

NOTE : Andrew chose to have his students shoot their own photos for their multigenre papers.
You can find a description of the photography process here.

  • Once the students have produced the writing for their multigenre paper they create a rough draft of their layout (photos, text and drawings etc.) for each genre.
  • Students complete their papers.
  • Projects are shared with the intended audience.
  • Students reflect on their work explaining what they have tried to accomplish and justifying the choices made in terms of their purpose and intended audience.

 

Celebrate the successful completion of the project in some way.

Evaluation

Creating multigenre papers is a huge project. There are many opportunities for assessment and evaluation. Rubrics for multigenre papers can be found on Tom Romano’s website and adapted to your own situation. The rubric can be developed with students during the immersion into link to YDKM photography process multigenre texts or can be provided by the teacher. Students should have access to the rubric before they begin to work on their papers.

For this project, I wanted the students to explore the moments of their day-to-day school experience in order to create a narrative told through a number of different genres. To do that they needed to find those experiences that were worth telling. How do they experience school? What matters to them? Where is the conflicts, the joy, the pain, the injustice? These are the experiences they needed to be writing from. Only then can they begin to craft their pieces. When they begin to think about how the experiences made them feel, or how to make their reader understand these feelings without actually saying it, they can begin to make their story come alive. This project was challenging, but well worth the time and effort involved. Andrew Adams

Additional Resources

Andrew drew on the work of Tom Romano to create this project. Romano’s book, Blending Genre, Altering Style, and Multigenre Writing Website provide a wealth of information for teachers. There, you will find examples of student-written multigenre papers, an annotated bibliography of professional books and articles, links to some very interesting projects, and more.

This website describes a high school Multigenre Research Project. It has a description of an excellent project on Jane Austen as well as a number of resource documents relating to multigenre papers.

 

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