The multi-genre project, as I wrote in my last post, is an amazing vehicle for critical thinking (Click here to read why). However, it can seem like a daunting task when you haven’t done one before. I’ve tried it enough times that I have some suggestions to help you take on this project without overwhelming yourself – or your students.
1. Break the project into steps
This is the one thing you must do. If students are completing both the reading and writing component and you try to grade it all at once, you will go nuts. It’s too much. It’s also too much to expect of your kids. Here’s what I do:
My semester is over the end of January, and my students will be completing a multi-genre project before then. In the last week before the Christmas break, we will begin the process of them choosing a question or idea to explore. Before they leave for the holiday, they will have done all of the pre-writing and planning for the reading portion of the project.
The final reading component will be passed in at the end of the first week after the break. The students will begin the writing portion as soon as we get back and I’ll break class into time for starting the writing process and for finishing the reading reflections. The multi-genre writing component will be passed in two weeks after the reading one. This gives me time to grade the first part before I look at the second.
2. Don’t Read Everything
I do assess all of the reading component, but with the writing one, I ask students to select the one text they want to be graded and tell them that I will randomly select the other (that way they need to do a good job of all of four of them).
This might seem like a lazy teacher move, but I think it’s a very wise one, especially for something that comes in at the end of the semester. I’ve already spent months giving them feedback and now it’s their time to show me what they can do — and I can see that in two of the four texts they create.
3. Don’t Do It All
Your students can get the benefit of doing a multi-genre project even if they only do parts of it. You could just have them do the reading component, reflecting on what they learned through reading multiple texts. Or, let them explore their ideas through their writing with just that component. Another way to do less is to assign fewer genres: instead of asking them to read and write four, do three, or even two. There is no magic number, and if you are just getting started with the MGP, I’d strongly suggest that you start small.
I hope that helps! If you have further questions, please leave them in the comments. And, if you’d like to get my free MGP organizer, click here.