Teaching multigenre writing


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

With the great changes in society, research is still essential, but not necessarily in the traditional format expressed above.



Few people today will need to write their research in a formal essay with footnotes and an extensive bibliography. Instead, people today are asked to publish their research in a manner that other people can easily digest. Readers want graphic application formats that speak to the type of information that needs to be communicated.

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.

What students don’t realise is that more critical thinking is involved in this process than the traditional paper. 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. Additional components could be included.

Students could use desktop publishing skills to design the report in actual newspaper format with columns and images just like the front page of the newspaper. The written content could also be produced as a multigenre web page or website.

With multigenre research, students must come up with an application format that they themselves create for use with their information. Students must also make extensive use of technology and have a solid knowledge base in different writing formats.

LESSON 17

Creating a multigenre weather forecast page

The weather page is usually a unique page of graphics relating to weather of the day and future predictions. In some cases, it also examines weather from the past in order to predict trends.

To understand the weather page readers must develop knowledge of weather symbols and terms.

Characteristics/ Rubrics base

  • Weather related focal point on a particular literary, historical or social event.
  • Usage of weather map and graphics to connect to the fictional or nonfictional characters in a story, historical event, or current events.
  • Manipulation of weather symbols and predictions to show what was actually happening weather-wise on the day of a particular event.
  • Development of a weather forecast that could have helped the people in a particular situation if they had seen such a forecast.
  • Demonstration of what was happening in other parts of the country during an active weather event. These accompanying forecasts would be scientifically based on what might have been possible at the time.
  • Bar or circle graph showing weather patterns related to the event.
  • Possible weather related article(s) that might enhance the actual weather maps for a particular event.



Curriculum links

English, the language arts, foreign language, geography, science, history and the social sciences can all make use of weather maps and weather related multigenre articles. After selection of a weather-related time period, students can apply their knowledge of the weather and the consequences through an appropriate map and other graphics.

For example in Sara Plain and Tall, huge hailstorms came across the plains. These storms as well as the droughts and blazing heat could be demonstrated in forecasts of the day(s) and related weather mapping.

Newspaper connection

Examine the weather map and page in today’s newspaper. Then scan major news stories on the front cover of the paper. Using the weather page, determine what the weather is like in those locations?

Is the weather affecting what is happening in the story? Now create a weather map or page as well as weather stories related to a historic event you may be studying, for example the historical development of the Melaka civilisation resulting from interaction brought by foreigners who came to entreport trading centre.

Creating a multigenre display ad

Display ads are what make newspaper publishing possible. Without money from ads there would be no newspaper.

Each of these advertisements can be quite costly, so the designer must make certain that the message is being conveyed in the best possible manner. This means both graphics and wording must catch the eye and the wallet of the reader.

Characteristics/ Rubrics base

  • Advertises a product, service or event.
  • A knowledge of the target audience.
  • What you want people to know about this product, service or event in a cleverly written statement.
  • Something to catch the eye of the reader.
  • Enough information so that the reader does not have a lot of questions.
  • Contact information including web site, phone number, location, hours, etc.
  • Convey why this product, service or event is something of importance.
  • A humorous, inspirational, or dramatic theme to the ad.
  • Proper placement of graphics and words in the ad.
  • Enough white space so that the reader does not get overwhelmed with information.



Curriculum links

Display ads are wonderful to teach persuasive writing in a different context.

Students need to learn about design and persuasive techniques. They must also know how to deliver a strong message in an effective way and keep the ad cost effective.

Any content area can make use of display ads for products, services and events that are a part of just about everything in life.

Newspaper connection

Using the rubric, examine display ads in today’s copy of The Star newspaper. Which elements of the rubric were used in the ads? Which ads do you think did a good job of selling its product or service? Why? Which ads did you think were not effective? Why?

Using the rubric and your examination of display ads, create an ad for a product or service of your choice. Now try creating an ad for something related to what you are currently studying in class.




Next week: Catch our final lessons on creating multigenre writing. Don’t miss how you can plan lessons around food section articles and additional products found in the newspaper.

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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Published twice monthly on Wednesdays, the colourful 16-page NiE pullout incorporates authentic materials from the newspaper into English language learning. It is written by experienced teachers/specialists and is endorsed by the Education Ministry. The syllabus-based pullout comes with a copy of The Star and is only available through school subscription. For more details, call The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 1-300-88-7827, Monday to Friday (9am-5pm).
   

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