Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Write in the Middle
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Workshop 5: Teaching Multigenre Writing

Mary Cathryn Ricker's Multigenre Unit

Mary Cathryn Ricker uses models to teach multigenre autobiographies.
Mary Cathryn Ricker uses models to teach multigenre autobiographies.

The capstone writing assignment for Mary Cathryn Ricker's seventh-grade class is an autobiographical booklet that includes at least 15 different genres—from poems, memoirs, letters, and personal narratives to more unusual modes of expression like maps, photographs, and drawings.

In the early part of this seven-week unit, Mary Cathryn's teaching follows a predictable routine. Using models to illustrate what she's teaching, she gives her students a mini-lesson on a specific genre or revision strategy. Then she gives the class time to apply the lesson. As the students write, Mary Cathryn moves around the room offering individual encouragement and help. After the writing session, she usually breaks the class into pairs or small groups so the students can share their pieces and get feedback from their peers.

"Teaching Multigenre Writing" documents two days in Mary Cathryn's class. During this time, she introduces her students to a new genre—a list of things they wish they could do. The students also mine for topics in their writer's notebooks, review and practice the memoir, and begin poems based on a bilingual model.

Unit Plan (pdf)

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