Exploring writing through a multigenre approach

TOM Romano, writing in his book Blending Genre, Altering Style, suggested alternative ways of sharing research material. The majority of research application formats came directly from the newspaper.

Known as multigenre writing, this approach has become one of the most productive ways teachers can 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.

For example, if a student or the class were producing a multigenre newspaper for Min Fong Ho’s The Clay Marble, the newspaper 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.

The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education programme ran a series of lesson ideas for teachers since June 28 in StarEdu. Today, we complete our programme with multigenre writing on food writing articles as well as additional products that can be found in the newspaper.

Lesson 19

Creating a multigenre food section article

The food section of the newspaper has numerous features. It includes recipes and stories behind these recipes, stories about different holidays and foods, food of various ethnic groups, and information on related products, trends, and events.

Restaurant reviews, often in the food section, are also good examples of persuasive writing.

Characteristics/ Rubrics base

• Discussion of the ingredients that will be part of the cooking; what these ingredients taste like, where they are found, availability of seasonal ingredients, cost, etc.

• Use of recipe and food related graphics in colour or black and white.

• Possible reactions regarding “the dish” from various populations.

• Discussion of various cooking tools, measurement and methodology.

• Discussion of other food dishes that could go along with the main course.

• Ways to serve a particular “dish” to make it more attractive.

• An explanatory article and graphics to accompany the recipe.

• Creating a recipe that links to a fictional or non-fictional story, historical or current event, holiday or other food related matter.

• Linking a recipe and article to a content area topic being studied.

Curriculum links

The food section of the newspaper works best with classes in language arts, math (regarding recipes), English, life skills classes, and the social sciences. Whenever different cultures are being discussed, food becomes a prominent issue.

Students love to eat and love to talk and write about food related items. Technology and graphics can also play a key role in this section.

Actual food preparation in the classroom, along with the multigenre writing product, can also prove successful.

Newspaper connection

Examine the food section of the newspaper (usually in the Food section of StarMetro). Study recipes: how they are made to sound interesting and delicious in the introduction and then how the food is actually produced with the amount of each ingredient and cooking instructions.

With a parent, write a recipe with the amounts of each ingredient and cooking instructions and then create it to share with the class. Now apply what you learnt about recipes to a topic being studied in class.

For example, use a food recipe from a time period you are studying or use the recipe format as an analogy such as a recipe for disaster for some tragic event in history.

Lesson 20

The crossword puzzle

No newspaper is complete without a crossword puzzle.

Development of a crossword puzzle demonstrates comprehension through compiling words and definitions for key words in your product.

The use of technology has made this product so much easier today. By doing a crossword puzzle search on the Internet, the student will be able to find multiple resources for creating original crossword puzzles and word searches.

Students love to solve crossword puzzles, but they also love to create their own with the help of technology.

The scientific, technological, and financial pages of the newspaper

A student in a science, math and/or technology class has multiple resources to use from the newspaper.

Each of these areas has entire sections with articles specifically geared to these topics. In some cases, these articles are purely factual and in others they are more persuasive. These articles also make great use of infographics to help reach the readers who may have less background knowledge in these particular areas.

Before a student begins to develop a scientific, technological or financial article, he should begin to collect these articles for word usage, format, graphics, and substance.

Travel article

At least once a week, newspapers have a travel section.

This section would be excellent for use in geography, history, and English classes. These feature articles help the reader to visualise various locations, their history, their culture, and their terrain.

Encourage students to use travel article models for a multigenre product. They are colourful and fun to both develop and share with others.

Fashion article

Usually on the Style strap of the Lifestyle section of The Star, the reader will find fashion articles.

These feature articles help us to better understand trends and the reason for these trends. Students can have great fun writing and designing a fashion article to go along with an English, a Life Skills Class Project, or a social studies project. Fashion is a part of everyday life, history, and the development of a character in a story.

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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