Inquiry Project

Writing Beyond the 5-Paragraph Essay

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug

photo by Green Chameleon

THE DILEMMA (click video for inquiry questions)

 

 

TRYING IT OUT!

In order to practice writing in a different literary genre, after reading J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur’s “What Is an American?” I had my students write their own essay answering that question. I wanted to see for myself, what is the benefit for writing in a new genre, creative nonfiction?

READ SOME STUDENT RESPONSES (CLICK HERE)

WHAT I LEARNED (click video)

 

QUESTIONNAIRE FROM OTHER TEACHERS

Part of this inquiry project included sending a questionnaire to current humanities teachers at my school. Below you can view the questions asked and then click on the link to view some of the most insightful observations and my personal reflections.

Teacher interview questions:

  1. Please provide a brief history of your teaching: years taught and which schools.
  2. What types of writing genres do you utilize in your classroom besides expository writing (the typical, 5-paragraph informative research paper)? Please list all of them. Examples might include interviews, blog posts, journal entries, creative fiction and/or nonfiction, letters, resumes, etc.
  3. Why do you assign non-expository writing assignments? What benefits have you observed? 
  4. What kinds of responses have you observed among your students to the types of writing assigned? Do they have a preference in writing genre?
  5. (Optional) Are there any other thoughts/opinions/observations you have about the use of non-traditional writing genres in the classroom versus the traditional expository essay?

READ SOME TEACHER RESPONSES (CLICK HERE)

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING (RESEARCH)

*Note: To read slides closer, right click on individual slides and select to open in a new tab

 

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ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE

 

 

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Just like a puzzle can’t be completed with 50 pieces of the same shape, students don’t become complete writers only by becoming experts in one writing genre. Instead, the various genres are like separate puzzle pieces that come together to form one whole writer. Also, visuals are so much more fun when using favorite Disney movies (actually, my wife’s favorite).