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2013 Innovative Writing in Teaching Recipient

M. Patricia Cavanaugh, Department of English

My belief is that my students will be better teachers of writing if they understand the importance of writing. If they do not like to write, I hope to change that; if they enjoy writing, I hope to encourage that. The Multi-Genre Project in my Teaching the Art of Writing classes incorporates the entire research process, but demands astute analysis and creative design/delivery. It motivates students and inspires a special pride in the finished product.

For the project, students can select any facet of writing that can/should be taught K-12, from sentence structure to nature poetry. Students gather information on their chosen topic through research, as they would for any research project. Once the information is gathered and categorized, students must analyze the information to determine what kind of creative approach they want to use to present it. Students have created letters, diplomas, newsletters, poems, plays, short stories, photo albums, scrapbooks, dioramas, posters, websites, games, puzzles, and menus. This takes writing a step beyond sentence and paragraph development; it infuses writing with creative presentation.

This project is multi-faceted because it covers a variety of topics, formats, and genres, from print documents to digital stories incorporating voice, animotos, wordles, and other digital formats. Publishing becomes something like a science fair, as the students bring their projects to class, make a formal presentation, and then exhibit them so that everyone can take time to talk with the author.

Students use this project to think, to explore their backgrounds, to understand themselves and their relations with others, to learn more about the aspects of writing, to research, to analyze, to synthesize, to self-evaluate, and to evaluate others with respect. I believe the writing I teach and engage in is important for their perspective as a writer—and prepares them well for their future role as a teacher.

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