Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Workshop 5: Teaching Multigenre Writing

Laurie Swistak's Lesson

Laurie Swistak interacts with a small group during a prewriting activity.
Laurie Swistak interacts with a small group during a prewriting activity.

In January, Laurie Swistak's fifth-graders at Cranston-Calvert Elementary School in Newport, Rhode Island, begin a multigenre research unit based on people or events of historical significance. Over the course of the semester, the students produce at least ten pieces in ten different genres about their topics. The unit culminates in May with oral presentations for the students' parents.

During the project, Laurie collaborates with Dr. Camille Allen, who teaches education at nearby Salve Regina University. Dr. Allen's students serve as mentors, meeting with the fifth-graders once a week to assist them with research and writing.

To help the students organize their research and focus their inquiry, Laurie uses a strategy called FQI—facts, questions, and interpretations. Through reading and online searches, the students locate interesting facts about their topics. Then they think of questions related to those facts. Finally, they decide what interpretations or genres they could use to answer the questions.

The two-day lesson featured in Workshop 5 provides students with practice in FQI. Laurie begins by modeling the process for the class, and then the students start applying FQI to their individual topics.

Lesson Plan (pdf)

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