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Designing Museum Exhibits for The Grapes of Wrath: A Multigenre Project
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Unit|
|Estimated Time||Five weeks|
As students read The Grapes of Wrath, many important issues from the depression era surface. This unit asks students to focus on one issue as it applies to the novel. Working alone or with a partner, students create artifacts in a variety of genres for a museum exhibit that will demonstrate important facts about the research topic and its significance to viewers. The unit begins with a brief overview of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl before students conduct research using an online tool. They then explore an online, interactive museum to gather ideas for their own exhibits. After reading the novel, they create exhibits using artifacts that represent issues from the novel and then display them for the class.
Great Depression and Dust Bowl Web Exploration: Students use this online tool to explore Websites on the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, gather information on these topics, and then answer questions to help build background on the time period and the experiences of people who lived through it.
When students read and write as they conduct research, they frequently compose in more than one genre. The types and kinds of reading and writing intertwine and blend together. Their work becomes multigenre. Tom Romano describes how multigenre texts work: "Multigenre allows us to ‘meld fact, interpretation, and imagination,' into a series of self-contained pieces called crots that appear in forms that include poetry, prose, drama, and exposition" (Writing with Passion 109). Multigenre can also increase engagement and interest among students. Grierson et al. write: "When thoughtfully used, multigenre writing offers teachers a meaningful way to explore literature and incorporate the principles of good writing, including the uses of alternative genres." (59) The authors agree that they "have not found another model that creates such enthusiasm and energy for writing among their students." (59)
In this lesson, students meld together fiction, nonfiction, and art through their research on the depression era and The Grapes of Wrath. Student interest in the historical novel is raised by using a multigenre approach.
Romano, Tom. 1995. Writing with Passion: Life Stories, Multiple Genres. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.
Romano, Tom. 2000. Blending Genre, Altering Style. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton Cook.
Grierson, Sirpa T. et al. "Exploring the Past through Multigenre Writing." Language Arts 80.1 (September 2002): 51-59.