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.
In groups students :
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
After receiving feedback, students rework their drafts into finished pieces of writing.
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.
Celebrate the successful completion of the project in some way.
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
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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Multigenre: An Introduction
by Lisa Langstraat
"A multigenre paper arises from research, experience, and imagination. It is not an uninterrupted, expository monolog nor a seamless narrative nor a collection of poems. A multigenre paper is composed of many genres and subgenres, each piece self-contained, making a point of its own, yet connected by theme or topic and sometimes by language, images, and content. In addition to many genres, a multigenre paper may also contain many voices, not just the author's. The trick is to make such a paper hang together."
~~ (Romano, Blending Genre, Altering Style i-xi)
Multigenre writing projects respond to contemporary conceptions of genre, audience, voice, arrangement and style by enabling students to tap into their knowledge about new media literacies, rich rhetorical situations, and the multiple perspectives that are inherent in any writing activity.
In short, multigenre projects entail a series of generic documents that are linked by a central premise, theme, or goal. They may forward an argument, trace a history, or offer multiple interpretations of a text or event. They are rigorous forms of writing, involving all of the elements of a traditional research paper: research and citation, coherence and organization, purpose and aim of discourse, audience awareness, and conventional appropriateness. Thus, while multigenre projects certainly teach students valuable, transferable strategies and expectations for writing, they go further. As Nancy Mack explains, multigenre writing:
- Presents multiple, even conflicting perspectives of one event or topic.
- Provides a rich context for an event or topic.
- Demonstrates sophisticated understanding of audience needs and interests.
- Permits meaning to dictate form, rather than vice versa.
- Demonstrates a sophisticated knowledge of various genres and uses of language.
- Integrates factual information into a meaningful text, verses copying or simply recall.
- Permits the author to highlight personal interests and special expertise.
- Stimulates critical analysis and higher-level thinking skills.
- Makes coherence and unity a genuine rhetorical problem to be solved.
- Requires research skills and knowledge of source documentation.
- Can make full use of new media literacies.
- Is almost impossible to plagiarize.
- Results in an interesting, engaging product.
- Demands careful reading and response.
Multigenre writing is thus informed by a multitude of rhetorical considerations including a complex understanding of genre theory. Teachers who engage in multigenre assignments must be prepared to sequence assignments/project pieces carefully, to engage in new kinds of response and evaluation strategies, and to learn to trust their students abilities and creativity. The results of this preparation, engagement, and trust are consistently surprising, heartening, and rhetorically sophisticated.
For additional information, see the following links:
Multigenre Projects Main Page ¦ Introduction to Multigenre ¦ Multigenre Projects Table of Contents ¦ Return to Writing Gallery