No apologies for shamelessly plugging history’s best series. But! It also really fit in with my goal for the week; having students make their own choices.

Multigenre writing has truly transformed how I view and do writing in my classroom. It has been an awesome experience to say the least. My students have really taken a liking to it, and as you can see in my previous blog posts, have really excelled! Though most of my reading for the class has been based on the idea of a multigenre project, a rather large cumulative-type paper, I have been able to adapt it to our needs and have seen it really work in my classroom. This being said, I have held their hands a lot through this process. I’m ok with that, even with my students being high schoolers. I knew it was going to be a very different experience and was, in all honesty, prepared to hold their hands much more than they really needed. I prepared a lesson weekly for them to stretch their multigenre legs, gave them a genre and a few examples, and some guidelines, albeit not super strict. This week I wanted them to really get the feel for the full multigenre experience; the largest part meaning they had to choose their own genre.

Before I began using this strategy, I could maybe come up with four or five genres on my own, but with my research, I have found so many neat ideas that I would’ve never thought of. Along with reading Romano’s Fearless Writing, this site in particular gave me several great ideas and examples to share with my students. So at the beginning of the lesson we had a chat. What makes this type of writing effective? How can you choose the best genre? We talked about how I had made choices that made sense. Obituaries for when cells don’t communicate, break-up letters for mitosis, recipes, for protein synthesis. I gave them a topic, transgenic organisms (some know them better as genetically modified organisms or GMOs), and set them on their way. I know it seems redundant to say, as I do every week, but these kids just never cease to surprise me. They made Death Certificates, Birth Certificates, Advertisements, journals, and even a Police Case. What is so great is that all of them made sense, all of the choices made the students think outside of the box, and you can tell that they really learned and understand the topic, even thought they all turned in something very different. I hope you will take time to look through a couple of these awesome products. It’s so cool to see my students presenting their findings in such unique and creative ways!


April 10th, 1943

The Case of the Excessive Nicotine

Charlie Vogler and Caleb Osborne

4:00 PM, Police Headquarters.

It was a rainy day in Chicago on the 5th of April, 1943. The name is Charlie “No-Voice” Vogler, me and my partner, Caleb “Lefty” Osborne, had been working for all of it. Our Job? To rid the streets of this disgusting drug, Nicotine.

I have been head of the Narcotics squad for five years now. It’s a tough job, but rewarding. If there’s one thing I have learned through all of these years, it is that no drug is an “easy” job. Those scumbags will fight tooth and nail to hold on to their “Drufs.” Lefty and I were heading to the warehouse of the nicotine King Pins, Justin “Cigar” Riley and his twin, Trevor “Cigarette” Riley.

6:00 PM, Warehouse

We pulled up to the door of the warehouse at 6:00 in the PM. The minute we stepped out we were bombarded with nuclear explosives. We split up, Lefty taking the right, and I took the left. We entered the building, only to find that they had left, taking all of the nicotine with them. We got back in our 1937 Chevy, and began chasing them. They took a left onto Sardine Lane, where they were cornered in by boxes full of fish at the local supermarket. There we were able to wrestle them out of the vehicle and confiscate the nicotine.

7:00 PM, Police Interrogation Room


We had enlisted the help of our best interrogator, Mr. Lucius Paiysli. He had been with the station for 10 years, and no one could get a criminal to fuss up quite like him.

“Ain’t gonna tell ya’” replied Cigar.

Paiysli backhanded the twin. After 5 years as a drill sergeant prior to joining the force, he wasn’t gonna let a criminal talk sass to him.

“This one grade will count for 100% of your LIFE”

“Oh well.” said Trevor.

It was at this moment that our two scientists, Will “Mad Guy” Vestal, and Levi “Brody” Brown. They had results.

“It came back positive,” began Mad Guy. He had been in the forensics division for 50 years, even though he was only 20.

“We found the nicotine,” finished Brody.

“Well, well” said Lefty, “looks like we don’t need you help anymore.”

“Look, fellas,” Justin said, reaching for his wallet.

“YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO SHUT UP” yelled Lefty, violently punching Justin in the face.

9:00 PM, Police Laboratory

I had sent the two criminals with one of our officers, Tyler “Anthony Gregorovich” Downer. He was to take them to one of the cells and book them.

Me and lefty followed Mad-Guy and Brody to the lab. They had found a way to reduce the nicotine in the Tobacco.

“Well, No-Voice,” said Brody, “we think we found it.”

“It is a solution that contains Salicylic Acid-” began Brody.

“English” interrupted Lefty.

“It is a nicotine reducing agent,” finished Mad-Guy. “We put it into the tobacco plant at it causes the plant to yield less nicotine, thus making the drug less addictive.”

“How does it work,” I asked.

“We put the composition the plant during the period that tobacco blooms on the top. This in turn will alter the final product genetically to produce less nicotine. It will also increase the yield of the plant.” Brody said.

“It isn’t a sure fire solution, nor will it rid the streets of nicotine. But it will greatly decrease the addictive properties of the drug.”

“We are sure it works?” Lefty asked.

“Yes sir,” replied Mad-Guy, “we have done extensive tests.”

April 8th, 1943. 12:00 PM, District Attorney’s Office.

Me and Lefty had just filed the charges against the Riley twins. Endangerment, Drug Dealing, and Obstruction of Justice.

The new genetically altered cigarettes had been leaked into the streets. People could no longer get the hard stuff, it was all the safer product made by Mad-Guy and Brody.

Me and Lefty got a call from the Chief congratulating us. As usual, I took all the credit. We are both getting a one week vacation, but after that, we are being place on the toughest case of them all. The case of the Excessive Sugars.


Entry 1:9/24/98
I am a bacteria; I was brought into a science lab a few days ago by several researchers andscientists, after being removed from my native environment. I have discovered that bacteria likeme and even some virus have also been brought into this lab for scientific reasons. I have beenlistening in on their conversations and they talk about these reasons; they talk about how I,other types of bacteria, and a few viruses will be used in scientific experiments to help advancemedical research, biotechnology, and help make a process called gene therapy, which appearsto be the process of using bacteria or viruses to correct a defective gene, more effective. I havebeen able to make minor communications with some of the other bacteria and some of theviruses; none of us know what is going to happen to any of us or when it will happen.
Entry 2:10/1/98
Most of the other bacteria and most of the viruses have been taken to be experimented on; theyhaven’t returned. It’s been abnormally quiet, despite the conversations between the scientistsand researchers. Those of us who remain have heard the researchers and scientists talk abouta few successful experiments; however, we also heard about how several of the experimentsfailed to accomplish anything. The scientists and researchers are discussing a potential, newmethod to be used while conducting new experiments. I have heard that this method is referredto as recombinant DNA, or something similar to that. The remaining bacteria, viruses, and Ibelieve this could be a safer alternative to the current methods being used, but we still don’tknow for sure.
Entry 3:10/15/98
I have been taken for usage in one of the experiments; I was the final bacteria to be taken. Thescientists and researchers have removed my plasmid, which was part of my DNA, for furthertesting. I can, somewhat, see what they are doing from my current location, it seems as if theyhave removed a portion of my plasmid to make room for something else, like a gene. Now, itappears they are taking what I assume to be a fully functioning gene from a different organism’sDNA and are implanting it into my plasmid. According to them, this re-engineered version of myplasmid is intended to help a person with a serious genetic disorder. They are walking back towhere I am and they appear to be getting ready to inject my changed plasmid back into me.Hopefully, nothing will go wrong.
Entry 4:11/1/98
After producing several identical copies of myself, I finally heard that I am going to be shippedoff to a different location. I have heard that I am one of the successful experiments and thescientists and researchers believe that, I will help treat a person’s genetic disorder and that I,having been a successful experiment, will help with more biotechnological breakthroughs in thefuture. I truly have no idea where I am being sent to or if I will be re-united with a familiarbacteria or virus, but I hope whatever corrected, functional gene I am equipped with helps aperson in their treatment against their serious, dangerous genetic disease. I am still hoping thatnothing goes wrong. I would like to know what happened to the failed experiments, which iswhat the scientists and researchers referred to them as.
Entry 5:12/2/98
I was used in the process of gene therapy; this therapy was mostly successful for the personwho had the gene therapy. I and my identical copies were placed in the air of an enclosed roomand we were indented to be inhaled by the person with the genetic disorder; we were intendedto be inhaled so we could locate the erroneous gene easily and attempt to repair it. As I and myidentical copies carry a corrected and functional gene, we have helped in the process of fixingand correcting an incorrect gene that did not function properly. While I have heard this person’sgenetic disorder was not fully cured, the gene therapy helped reduce the effects and symptomsof the disorder. I, unfortunately, have not found any familiar bacteria or viruses to communicatewith; they were probably sent to different areas to help other people with their genetic disorders.I still wonder what happened to those bacteria and viruses that were considered failedexperiments; when I was still at that lab, I heard that the failed experiments were removed fromthe facility and disposed of. I am not sure what that legitimately means, but I assume it does nothave a good meaning.

4 thoughts on “It is our choices, Harry…

  1. Hannah, once again you have offered your students an authentic way to learn and practice new concepts. You have given them the scaffold to think out of the box and create meaningful products that show what they really learned. Great work!


  2. I am so amazed every time I read your posts. First of all, I know that the original reason you started having your students write is because of this class; but now that they have proven to you, and to all the rest of us, how valuable writing is in the content area, you will continue to incorporate writing in as many activities as possible. Secondly, you have shown us so many examples of multi-genre styles. You could have easily taken the easy way out and concentrated your efforts on only a few types of writing. Hannah style, you threw yourself, and your students, head-first into this experience and came out a winner! It truly is our choices….


  3. Hannah, I wish I had had a science teacher like yourself when I was in high school. What you are doing with multigenre writing would have been a breath of fresh air for me. I think it is absolutely wonderful how you have embraced this type of writing and given it a chance in your classroom. I love the examples of your students’ work especially the bacteria’s blog posts. You can clearly tell this student understand the concept and I am sure he/she had more enjoyment completing a project of their own choosing in such a fun way!


  4. After being paired up with you last week I couldn’t wait to read your blog post this week to see how your students responded to this assignment. You and I had discussed your plan for this week and I know your students were really excited about this assignment. I am always blown away by the opportunities that you offer in your classroom that most other core subject teachers wouldn’t. I know your students will remember these activities and the concepts learned through them will stick with them. Teaching in this fun and innovative way makes connections more concrete. As a student in high school I wasn’t confident in my abilities as a writer and I would have cringed, but as I read their pieces I can feel the excitement they felt as they put them together. They really spent a lot of time on these and pulled together a lot of elements. Great assignment and thanks for sharing their writing, I really enjoyed reading them!


Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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