Teaching multigenre writing through the newspaper

  • Education
  • Sunday, 19 Jul 2020

MULTIGENRE writing projects can help students apply writing as a way to discover, read, evaluate, and organise information.

Tom Romano, writing in his book Blending Genre, Altering Style, also suggested that students learn that effective writing is done for a purpose, with a specific audience in mind.

Romano’s approach to research formats did not “dumb down” the research process.

In fact, it enhanced the research process by focusing on an essential question, using a greater variety of research materials, and bringing application, instead of only essay writing, to the process. Of course, essay writing is still imbedded in most of the multigenre products that are used for application-based research.

Even though the multigenre research paper is gaining in acceptance and popularity each year, we do not want to minimise the importance of the traditional research paper.

There is a definite place for both in our curriculum.

With multigenre research, students must come up with an application format that they themselves create for use with their information.

For example, if a student or the class were producing a multigenre newspaper for Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird, the newspaper published might include these genres (not limited to these): a feature article on the lawyers in the trial, an editorial cartoon depicting either side of the trial or an advice column asking a question(s) dealing with the trial or coping with it.Students must also make extensive use of technology and have a solid knowledge base in different writing formats.

Multigenre writing has become one of the most productive approaches teachers can use to help students write creative, informational research reports.

This guide, presented by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme, will help teachers succeed in that effort.

Today, we serve up yet another two genres – editorial cartoons and horoscope – that can be incorporated into lessons for this purpose.

Lesson 7

Creating a multigenre editorial cartoon

Editorial cartoons take what an editorial does but uses visualisation. Instead of using words to support a point of view, the cartoonist uses bold graphics and pictures to make fun of a particular situation or express a strong point of view.

A headline and simple labels may be used to enhance the cartoon.

Characteristics/Rubric base

Includes symbols, graphics, and line drawings to express a point of view regarding an issue that is confronting the public.

• Includes a headline and possibly a few words to help understand the message more clearly.

• Usually includes a setting, a time period, and the conclusion of an event in a unique manner.

• May be factual or taken to an added extreme.

• May require prior knowledge on the part of the reader.

• Should provoke thought and / or reflection.

• Should include simple details to enhance viewpoint.

• Does not have to express

the actual viewpoint of the cartoonist.

Curriculum links

Editorial / Political cartoons can be utilised across the curriculum. There is not one area of the curriculum where there is no controversy or where different viewpoints can’t be explored.

Students need to take a critical stance on a content area topic and see how they can effectively express their opinion with a bold visualisation.

Newspaper connection

Using the rubric, examine editorial cartoons in recent copies of The Star. (They are usually located in the Views column.)

Which elements of the rubric were used in the cartoons? Why was the cartoon thought provoking or amusing?

Now design and write your own editorial cartoon on a topic of your choice. Students may work in pairs with one student being the illustrator while the other student writes the headline and / or short text for the cartoon plus a separate explanation of what they are trying to convey to help the class determine if their cartoon succeeded in illustrating the topic.

Lesson 8

Creating a multigenre horoscope

A horoscope, whether in a newspaper or another source, is a forecast of a person’s future based on the position of the planets at a given moment.

The forecast helps the person frame his day, or longer time period, based on the good and bad of the astrological signs.

Characteristics/Rubric base

Knowledge of the person’s birthday so that an astrological sign can be assigned.

• Knowledge of the date of the aligned event so that the horoscope can match with what happened on a particular day.

• Possible scenario of day’s events in general.

• Three to five lines of terse comments about a situation and the possible fate.

• Possible inclusion of the position of the planets at the time (not accurate, only format writing).

• Broad based comments that may be interpreted in more than one way.

• Elements of what to beware of on that particular day.

• Elements of opportunities to take advantage of on that day.

• Careful word choice with limited use of highly descriptive words.

• Guidelines for making decisions.

Curriculum links

Horoscopes writing can best link to English and the language arts and characters in fiction and / or non-fiction stories.

It can also link to historical and scientific events and the people most associated with these events.

For example, instead of writing in an expository manner about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865, you might show your knowledge about the subject through developing the following horoscope for April 14, 1865.

Here’s an example.

Aquarius: Jan. 20 – Feb. 19. Abraham Lincoln was born on Feb. 12.

With Virgo rising and the Moon in Aquarius, you will find your power and influence growing. You have been through very troubled times, have borne great burdens, but now seem more in control of your leadership qualities.

Rejoice in your good fortune but beware of those who do not want you to succeed. Stay away from public areas, especially in the evening hours.

Newspaper connection

Using the rubric, examine horoscopes in today’s copy of The Star (check out StarLifestyle).

Which elements of the rubric were used in the horoscopes? What made them interesting, entertaining or made you take notice?

Using the example in the curriculum link above, write a horoscope about someone in history or a person that is making an impact on the world today.

Next week: Creating a multigenre obituary and a multigenre caption.

Since 1997, Star-NiE has been making a difference in the English language classrooms nationwide, with an emphasis on aiding teaching-learning activities with the use of authentic newspaper materials. Published on Wednesdays, The Star’s NiE pullout is available only through school subscriptions of The Star.
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