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Multigenre Paper Reflection Heather Coe 1

A multigenre project is a wonderful way to expose students to a variety of literature,

while strengthening and deepening their understanding of a specific topic. Multigenre reports

not only display various genres of writing, but they often represent diverse voices or

perspectives. Another benefit of this approach is that it can be completely inquiry based. Rather

than the teacher giving the student a required form, and then the student constructs meaning, the

student first gains an understanding of a topic and then displays it in multiple forms. According

to Moulton, “This interpretive mode also requires creativity along with thought, and it further

requires students to use their knowledge of many different types of writing in terms of style,

organization, and format.” (1999) Moreover, students have the opportunity to incorporate

various technologies into their product, which leads to learning about the proper use of these

technologies in the process. Compared to a regular report or paper, this medium is more

motivating and inviting, for both the writer and the reader.

Most topics for research involve multiple perspectives. Whether the topic is a specific

book or an historical event, there is never one side to the story. For this reason, a multigenre

report is perfect for thoroughly examining these subjects. Often, with traditional research,

students are forced to narrow their focus so much that only one point-of-view is studied.

Especially with historical events, textbooks are written to reflect the view of the successful or

controlling party. Because many historical events were recorded and written by Caucasian

males, minority viewpoints were often left out. Through independent research and the creation

of artifacts, students are able to get inside the minds of all those that took part in an historical

event. Rather than encouraging them to memorize and reproduce someone else’s ideas, they can

produce their own ideas (Hughs, 2009).

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Furthermore, teachers who present content are often pressured to only skim the surface of

the material because of pacing. By giving students the opportunity to do a multigenre report,

they are provided the means to research a topic of interest at a deeper level. As Hughes states,

students “develop thinking and problem-solving skills by delving further into a topic that they

are already familiar with or are interested in learning more about.” (2009) Classroom

curriculums should be focused on inquiry, or children searching for the questions that are

significant to them, rather than on covering a particular topic through a prescribed set of

activities (Kaser & Short, 1997). The multigenre paper gives students this opportunity to

research an avenue that they feel is important. Therefore, the production and end result are more

meaningful to the student. When we create relevant lessons that allow students to incorporate

their interests, we reinforce the belief that our job is to support the students and give them

opportunities to challenge themselves (Hughes, 2009).

Although the Multigenre paper is unlike the standard research paper in terms of

presentation, the general writing requirements are very similar. The students still have to choose

an area of interest and perform the actual research. Even if their topic comes from literature,

they should always incorporate outside research. Once they have done their research, students

must use critical thinking skills to process the information and present it through writing.

Depending on what grade one teaches, it would probably be a good idea to include a guide sheet

for students to follow. When they first begin to do research, it can be overwhelming. Painter

suggests that, “to help students stay focused, organized, and on task, it is helpful to create a guide

sheet that outlines specific steps that need to be followed when completing the project.”

(2009)Students are still responsible for properly citing this research; however, they would not

include in-text citations, as this would ruin the aesthetic appeal of their artifact. An advantage of
Multigenre Paper Reflection Heather Coe 3

the Multigenre paper is that it requires students to think about more than one form of writing

(Hughes, 2009). Rather than just focusing on the traditional essay, they might explore poetry,

biography, letters, diaries, interviews, and announcements. Then, they incorporate these

mediums into their own writing. Attention to conventions would still be a necessary component.

In creating a multigenre paper, students have the ability to use pertinent 21st century

skills, including the use of technology. There are numerous Web 2.0 tools that could be

incorporated into the project. Students would still be able to write poetry or an announcement,

but they could produce it online and integrate various media. Students today need these skills to

be competitive in a worldwide market. Every child does not have the advantage of exploring

new technologies at home; therefore, it is the teacher’s responsibility to provide these

opportunities at school. Children are generally more motivated when they are allowed to

incorporate these tools into projects.

The Multigenre report is an excellent way to diversify learning. Because the process is

somewhat determined by the students, they can pick and choose which methods they feel most

comfortable. This constructivist process allows students to make meaning of information and to

think and act on higher levels (Painter, 2009). Although there seems to be a lot more involved

with a multigenre paper when compared to a traditional paper, the students are much more

engaged. In a study, Painter discovered that the Multigenre paper “engaged all students,

regardless of abilities, learning styles, and interests, as demonstrated by very few discipline or

redirecting-back-to-task occurrences.” (2009) Because students are captivated by the process,

teachers actually have more time to spend with individuals to answer specific questions (Painter,

Multigenre Paper Reflection Heather Coe 4

If provided enough structure, students are highly successful with the Multigenre paper.

Because the project can seem overwhelming at first, it is a great idea of dividing up the project

into minilessons filled with plenty of modeling (Allen, 2002). They should know what to expect

ahead of time. An easy way to explain your expectation is through a rubric. A timeline of due

dates and checkpoints would be excellent for the learner (Allen, 2002). When students finally

complete the process of conducting research, analyzing resources to retrieve pertinent

information, reporting their findings through multiple and creative genres, and presenting these

genres to an audience of their peers, they gain a since of accomplishment and achievement

(Hughes, 2009).
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Works Cited

Allen, C. (2001). The Multigenre Research Paper: Voice, Passion, and Discovery in Grades 4-6.
Retrieved from ERIC database.
Here, the author provides interested teachers with a plethora of useful resources. She
provides a step-by-step guide to the process of creating multigenre papers with your
students. She gives advice on how to organize your classroom and how to help
students select topics. Minilessons on the writing of poetry, character sketches, and
nonfiction are provided to help teachers. Allen also includes information on how to
properly evaluate students’ work.

Hughes, H. (2009). Multigenre Research Projects. Middle School Journal, 40(4), 34-43.
Retrieved from ERIC database.
The researcher used the idea that middle schools are supposed to focus on adolescent
intellectual development to justify the Multigenre paper. Within her research, the
author notes the importance of inquiry and examines the results of his own experiment.
Student examples are included with the work.

Kaser, S. & Short, K. (1997). Exploring Cultural Diversity through Peer Talk. Peer Talk in the
Classroom: Learning from Research, Paratore, J. & McCormack, R. Newark, DE:
International Reading Association.
Although this article did not focus on multigenre papers, it did explore the concept of
creating a diversity-driven classroom through inquiry based projects. The author gives
plenty of ideas for inquiry projects and presents data that suggest that a classroom that is
open to diversity creates more engaged learners.

Moulton, M. (1999). The Multigenre Paper: Increasing Interest, Motivation, and Functionality in
Research. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 42(7), 528-39. Retrieved
from ERIC database.
This article explores the benefits of incorporating multigenre papers into the curriculum.
The author experimented with using this project even before she had a clear
understanding of what one looked like. After providing her students with some
structure, she allowed them to choose their topics and begin. Soon, initial concerns of
plagiarism and grading criteria slowly began to fade. The project was successful, and
Moulton outlines the various genres used and provides examples of student work.

Painter, D. (2009). Providing Differentiated Learning Experiences through Multigenre Projects.

Intervention in School and Clinic, 44(5), 288-293. Retrieved from ERIC database.
This article details the journey of two elementary teachers and their experience with the
Multigenre paper. It contains how they set up their project, as well as how they
presented it to students. Examples of materials they used are provided within the
article. They encouraged students to integrate technology, and, overall they
experienced quite a bit of success.