Presentation of Learning
Multigenre Essay Project: Turning Research and Essay Writing into a Labor of Love
The words “essay” and “research project” often strike fear in learners’ hearts or at the very least elicit a chorus of apathetic groans. iLEAD Exploration’s FLEX World Literature facilitator, Stephanie Binckes, devised a workaround for this often-dreadful experience with a wonderful project she developed called the Multigenre Research Paper/Project.
Inspired by a book she read called The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Ms. Binckes came up with a new way for learners to showcase research and essay-writing skills. In the book, author Michael Ondaatje uses all types of writing — poetry, transcripts, newspaper articles, first-person accounts, images, etc. — all to tell the story of Billy the Kid. Ms. Binkes loved the idea of presenting information in a more engaging way that allows learners to use their imagination, so she decided to build a structure and a process for learners to create something similar of their own.
Here’s the prompt she constructed:
You will conduct research on a person, idea, topic, era, cultural phenomenon, movement, thing or place. With a traditional research paper, you present the information in a dry essay format that often isn’t fun to write or read. In a multigenre project, you will use your imagination to present your topic using different types of writing (genres). You will need to figure out how to make this paper hang together and read as a cohesive unit.
According to Ms. Binckes, this project was definitely a paradigm shift for learners, as many of them had never before approached research in such a creative way. It was sometimes challenging for them to understand that they could use their imagination to write a fictional piece that was based on facts. Many even asked repeatedly if they could write a traditional essay instead.
After one to two weeks of research, one week of planning, and two to three weeks of writing, as well as time struggling over the purpose of each piece, how best to share information, and loads of creativity, the learners created projects they were extremely invested in. Because they had been given complete freedom in topics, they could write about a subject meaningful to them — and it showed.
Overall, the World Literature class learners did a wonderful job with this project. Three projects stood out, two of which are featured below. The third will appear in a future Presentation of Learning. Genres that learners included in their projects were newsletters, poetry, interviews, diary entries, newspaper articles, blog posts, short stories, and even recipes.
Enjoy these wonderful projects by current iLEAD 11th graders Mackenzie Graham and Ricky Vidal Dorsch!
Ricky Vidal Dorsch’s complete project:
THESIS: My grandparents’ lives show how greatness can be achieved despite humble beginnings.
Mackenzie Graham’s complete project:
THESIS: More people should become familiar with “More More Jump,” an incredibly underrated group within the game Project Sekai.
**Parents/EFs: If you’re interested in assigning this project to your learners, please email Ms. Binckes and she’ll be happy to share the full assignment with you.
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