Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Write in the Middle
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Write in the Middle
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Workshop 5: Teaching Multigenre Writing

Workshop 5 centers on multigenre writing, an eclectic approach to writing instruction that offers students a wide range of options for expressing ideas and communicating knowledge. As students explore different avenues for translating what they think or know into writing, they begin to understand that there is no single "right way" to communicate. Instead, writing demands intelligent, informed choices based on purpose, audience, content, and personal preference. Giving students the freedom to make these choices fosters their creativity and increases their engagement.

The first teacher featured in the workshop is Laurie Swistak from Newport, Rhode Island, whose fifth-graders are starting work on a research-based multigenre unit. Laurie begins by reviewing FQI—Facts, Questions, Interpretation—an inquiry framework that helps students think critically about genre choice. Through the course of two class periods, we see Laurie use a skillful mix of whole-class and small-group work to prepare her students to use FQI independently.

In the second part of the program, St. Paul teacher Mary Cathryn Ricker and her seventh-grade students approach multigenre writing from a different angle. Over the next few months, the students will prepare a portfolio of multigenre pieces focused on personal experience. To get the students started, Mary Cathryn introduces several literary models including Jerry Spinelli's entertaining memoir, Knots in My Yo-Yo String, and a collection of biographical poems about George Washington Carver. Later, we see her use a student poem—written in both English and Spanish—as a prompt, a particularly apt choice for her class of second- language learners.

Also featured in the program is Tom Romano, a national expert on multigenre writing.

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