I feel like Bob Ross today with my “happy accidents.” You could imagine my excitement when I was so easily able to turn the run-of-the-mill, 1 page essay assignment I had planned for my class, into a chance for them to really stretch their multigenre legs. Our topic for today was Cell Communication. For all of my not-so-sciencey readers, this topics dives into the cell membrane and looks at neurotransmitters and hormones, and exactly how does each cell in your body send signals to one another! Woo! If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, then you may be reading the wrong post. If it does, stay tuned, it’s about to get better.

Of course along with cell communication, we talk about what happens when cells don’t communicate properly, or fail to do so at all. So what’s the worst thing that could happen? Well I could give you a long list of diseases and disorders that can occur, but why not let these obituaries do the explaining for me. That’s right. My sophomores spent the wee hours of the school day writing obituaries. And they loved it!





In my complete and unabashedly biased opinion, I think these turned out so awesome.

Not only were my students able to take the concept and run with it. I saw and heard them sharing with their friends, laughing at what each other had written, sharing ideas, and, wait for it, RESEARCHING information to see what all they could fit into their obituary. They took what I would have had them do in a rather boring, straightforward essay, and turned it into something informational, that’s actually fun to read. And, I dare say, they enjoyed writing it! Overall a major success for my students, myself, and our adventures in multigenre-land.


7 thoughts on “Dearly Beloved, We Are Gathered to Honor a Dear Friend…

  1. Hannah,
    You are so brave and wonderful. Thank God for great minds like yours. It’s good to lknow that our young teenage writers responded or took the bait and seem to enjoy it.😁😁😁😁


  2. Dearly Beloved….. I almost blew coffee across my screen when I first saw the title! This is amazing, Hannah! Now I want my sixth graders to write obituaries for poor writing habits such as lack of end marks and correct capitalization! I can just see it now… We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of our dearly departed, “said.” Said is dead. He is survived by his long-suffering wife, whispered, and his multitude of offspring: yelled, screamed, shouted … You get the picture! That was so much fun! Thanks for the ideas!


  3. I am already thinking if I could have my students write obituaries in first grade. This was truly an innovative lesson. I’m sure this was the best assignment your students completed all day. I would like to be a kid in your class.


  4. What an awesome lesson Hannah! From the samples you shared, it seems like they understated what is going on with cell communication. I would not have been able to tell anyone anything about the topic, but the writing your students completed taught me! I giggled when I read that Mr. Signals was head of the Sugar Division at the local police department. I am happy that you heard joy and lesson centered discussion in your class as your students worked on this assignment. That is a great feeling for a teacher.


  5. Since you mentioned that you were going to try this, I had to read how it went. How wonderful and how funny! It sounds like you really took on something that seemed difficult but the students did such an amazing job and had a great time doing it. They will probably remember that forever!

    It is such a great way to review the content and I may just use this in one of my math lessons….probably whole class but they would love it!

    Thanks for sharing!


  6. Way to go Hannah!!! I thought this idea you shared during class the other night was hilarious! I am so happy that your students took the idea and ran with it! Their obituaries are not only hysterical, but informational. What a fun way to engage your students with researching a topic and writing about it in a very unconventional way. I bet they will never forget this lesson and probably talked about it with other friends and family members. I hope you are sharing these wonderful ideas with your colleagues at the high school. Well done my friend!


  7. Wow! Beyond the writing itself, what caught my attention was the fact that you noticed students wanting to do MORE research beyond what was required. This reflects genuine engagement in writing compared to the usual questions of “How long does this need to be?” or “How many facts do I have to include?”. I’d love to hear more about how much ‘setup’ or modeling this lesson took (did you use a mentor text?)–or perhaps students were already familiar enough with obituaries as a genre that they could just jump in. Two genres and two successes so far! I’m thrilled to see that your students are willing to jump into multigenre writing with you in science class. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s