Writing mutigenre papers using the newspaper

BLENDING Genre, Altering Style by Tom Romano is the first book to address the practicalities of helping students compose multigenre papers. Romano discusses genres, subgenres, writing strategies, and stylistic manoeuvres that students can use in their own multigenre papers.

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 Romano, the multigenre paper is more than a writing assignment. It is a multilayered, multivoiced literary experience.

Genres of narrative thinking require writers to make an imaginative leap, melding the factual with the imaginative. Writers can’t just tell. They must show. They must make their topics palpable. They must penetrate experience. Multigenre papers enable their authors to do that.

For example, if a student or the class were producing a multigenre newspaper for Min Fong Ho’s The Clay Marble, the paper published might include (but is not limited to) these genres: hard news articles, display ads for fashions and/or products from that time period, obituaries for those that die in the story, letters to the editor regarding a possible trial and an editorial cartoon depicting the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

This week, The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education programme presents Lessons 9 and 10 in this guide to help teachers steer their students and succeed in that effort.

Lesson 9

Creating a multigenre obituary

An obituary is a notice of a death, usually with a brief biography of the deceased. The biography usually follows a specific pattern that brings together key elements in the life of a person.

Newspapers often write obituaries on important or noteworthy people. Space for obituary notices can also be purchased in The Star (the longer the written obituary, the more costly, so they are usually short and concisely written).

Characteristics/Rubrics base

• Begins with full name of person, age at death, date of death and where the person passed away. In some cases, the cause of death is noted as well.

• Includes whether person is married or not. If married, name of spouse and years married are included. Surviving children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers, parents, grandparents or other relations are listed.• Includes educational background and awards and highlights career fields and career accomplishments.

• Includes lists of publications or work related citations.

• Includes organisations to which the person belonged.

• May include what the person is most remembered for by others, as well as special interests, not included in other areas.

• Information on funeral services and donations to a group(s) on behalf of the deceased.

• If possible, include a fairly recent photo of the person.

Curriculum links

Not every area of the curriculum is going to be a good fit with the obituary format because the death or the demise of an event or process does not always take place.

Developing original “obits” for fictional or nonfictional characters in English and language arts is usually very successful. Developing obits for historical, humanitarian, artistic, mathematical, and scientific people also work very well. For those with the ability to think critically, “obits” can also be applied to events, processes, happenings, or products that are no longer in existence.

For example, you could have an obituary for the Brazilian Rain Forest as a persuasive writing piece. Of course, the above-mentioned categories would have to be changed somewhat, but the final results would be similar.

Newspaper connection

Using the rubric, examine obituaries in today’s copy of The Star. Which elements of the rubric were used in the obits? Now write an obituary related to one of the topics in the curriculum links above.

Lesson 10

Creating a multigenre photograph with a caption

Photographs are used in the newspaper in order to attract readers.

The photographs may stand alone with no text other than the caption under the photo, or they may be linked to an article to enhance the printed content.

Characteristic/Rubric base

The text related photo should:

• Bring a visual element to a particular article.

• Focus on action and emotional relevance to the article.

• Be “up close and personal,” not taken from a distance.

• Be clear and focused.

• Make you feel as if you were there.

• Catch your eye and make you want to read the article.

• Include several details, but in a subtle way.

• Focus on a few people or objects rather than on everything.

The caption

• Should identify names of people in the picture, the reason for their actions or emotions, and what we are witnessing in the photo.

• May include a time frame.

Photos alone

• Must make a strong statement to the viewer.

• Should evoke some sort of emotion in the viewer.

• Are usually taken with a particular point of view in mind.

• May have a caption or a clever headline.

Curriculum link

Every area of the curriculum can benefit from comprehension through photography.

Some students see with words, some students see through music and some see with visualisations and photographs.

With non-costly instamatic digital cameras, students can be given the opportunity to capture the appropriate photographs to enhance their research reports. The photograph may accompany a feature or hard news story and include a caption.

The photograph may stand alone with a headline.

Newspaper connection

Using the rubric, examine photographs in today’s copy of The Star. Which elements of the rubric were used in the photos? Which photo tells a story on its own or enhances the understanding of a story? Where they moving or thought provoking?

In pairs, find photos throughout the newspaper. Remove the captions and ask the other student to write a new caption based on what they see in the photo.

How does the new caption compare with the original? For homework take a few pictures of your own or use ones already taken and write a caption explaining the photo.
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