Thinking about genre.

Hi everyone!  Just to recap, here is our upcoming schedule:

April 23:  3 pm Zoom call. By this date, please review 1101 Units 2 and 3 (below) as well as Kerry Dirk’s “Navigating Genre” ( you may recall we read this one million years ago, in January) and read “Murder, Rhetorically Speaking”. Please write a post (New Post) on Open Lab before our April 23 meeting answering the following question: (You can use the category 1101 Unit 2)

What are some strategies or low-stakes assignments you might use to teach your students what genre is, and how and why we move between genres in order to reach our audiences and achieve our desired outcomes? Try to think of strategies that you might be able to use online.

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4 thoughts on “Thinking about genre.

  1. James Wu

    Draft of possible writing assignments illuminating the social context of writing: Look at these 4 categories.

    Find two or more examples of each category from your (online) reading and present them to the class on the OPenLab blog/Blackboard discussion forum. Who is the reader of the text? How does the author communicate effectively or how could he improve?

    Write one text in each of the 4 categories below. Use multi-modal elements if possible. Who is your reader? How do you communicate effectively?

    1. Personal/everyday/social media category (brief, quick, low stakes)
    Daily to-do list or weekly schedule
    Text message thread with photos/Social media post thread
    Personal diary/journal
    Letter or email to friend or family member on an important topic

    Descriptive profile of self or person you know
    Music or movie review

    2. Work/professional/ official business documents (short or medium, low stakes)
    Ingredient list on food product vs recipe
    Restaurant menu
    Business letter—returning an item that was unsatisfactory
    Description of item for sale online—sales copy, e.g. real estate listing
    Online photo essay
    Interview of a person or persons to be published online

    Police report—compare to Janet Boyd
    Eulogy for relative or obituary
    Wedding speech for friend, toast

    3. Literary genres including entertainment/media (longer time to develop, but low stakes on grade)
    Poem (set of 3)
    Fictional short story—first draft
    Nonfiction narrative/Memoir/Personal essay
    Idea for a television series/movie/video game; with outline or plan or design

    4. Academic genres (medium stakes)
    Metacognitive Reflection
    Thesis focused essay
    Research paper or review of sources
    Science lab report

  2. Rebekah Coleman

    Hi! I have one quick one that has been fun. After reading in different genres, before beginning writing, this is a fun and quick writing activity. Come up with an object like “onion and garlic flavored ice cream” and have students choose two of the genres in which to compose a piece:
    1. Write a thank you note to your friend for giving you the “onion and garlic flavored ice cream.”
    2. Write an ode to the “onion and garlic flavored ice cream.”
    3. Craft an advertisement and sell the “onion and garlic flavored ice cream!”
    4. Write a letter to the manufacturers of the “onion and garlic flavored ice cream” and ask them their rationale for making that flavor of ice cream!

    Another quick one—
    Take a “genre walk” through your daily life. As you flip through social media, watch TV, listen to a song, order from a restaurant, look for writing (in any form!) and write down as many as you find. See how many different genres you interact with on a daily basis. Try to categorize them, if you can into these 3 categories: texts meant to Persuade, to Entertain, or to Inform. Choose 3 of the texts. Read them rhetorically. Identify the purpose (ie to persuade, inform or entertain), any rhetorical appeals you notice in them (ethos, pathos, logos), and the mode (or modes). You may even want to use the 5Ws and 1 H as a lens to look at them with! Then, write a brief response to them. How do you view these pieces differently now that you have carefully looked at each one? To what extent has it changed how you view its influence on your daily life in any way? Explain.

    1. Ruth Garcia

      Hi Rebekah–I really love this “genre walk” assignment. I just had students do an annotated bibliography where they needed to find sources of different genres to respond to their research question. I think next time I’ll use part of this in the annotated bibliography so that when they summarize and evaluate their sources, they also have to “Read them rhetorically”. This will make the annotated bibliography more substantial, as Carrie recommends, and prepare them for unit 3.

    2. Josh Borja

      Hi Rebekah,

      I wanted to add that I like the genre walk’s categories. Persuade / Entertain / Inform is a concise, practical shorthand for starting an analysis of purpose and audience, which is a (good) “slippery slope” into an analysis of rhetorical situation and genre conventions. It’s easy to refer to as students encounter new texts when they build up their annotated bibliography. Beyond reading the texts for “content,” students need to “read them rhetorically,” as you and Ruth emphasized.

      I appreciate that the “onion and garlic flavored ice cream” assignment covers a dramatically wide variety of not only genres but also primary/secondary audiences. The assignment feels low stakes, is engaging, and is extraordinarily instructive!

      Thanks so much for sharing this, Rebekah. And thanks, Ruth—your comment has been really useful to think about!

      Best wishes for a safe, healthy, and peaceful week,

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