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Genre Jumping

Assignment Summary

Divide the chalkboard into four sections numbered one to four. Ask students to pick a place with which everyone is familiar, and then encourage them to pick Manhattan, because everyone has probably been there. First, ask them what it's like, and as they respond, write the key description words on the board in section one. Next, ask students to tell the class about a trip they've made into the city. Most students want to tell about a harrowing or otherwise memorable trip into the city, and you'll write some key phrases in the second section. Third, begin a discussion about the history of the city and encourage students to add information. Write some of their remarks on the board in section three. Next, ask students to choose a problem related to the city and ask them to suggest three ways to solve the problem. Their solution doesn't have to be logical as long as they can come up with at least three reasons, not opinions, to support their solution.

Once the four sections of the board are filled with information, ask students to summarize the class activities in a sentence or two. And, at last, ask them to identify the genres used in the discussion--description, narration, exposition, and argument--and congratulate them for having completed a tour through the world of genre.

Instructor's Comments

This lesson stimulates lots of discussion, and some students said that addressing each genre in this way helped them understand what we instructors are talking about when we refer to genre. I refer to this lesson throughout the semester to remind students when they're crossing genre lines in their writing during class and group discussions.

genre narrative, argument, summary and response
course WRT102
activity type class discussion
skills analysis, genre distinction
duration 1 class
materials/readings
chalkboard
handouts: --
contributor: Joan Altieri