Genre Remix Project: MLA Research Papers Reimagined

Project Overview

I finally finished written feedback for the last round of second submission rough drafts for a MLA Research Paper Project. While I love research papers, the idea of feedback makes me cringe because it is 1.) time-consuming at school 2.) time-consuming at home and 3.) soul-sucking because it forces much needed reflection. I am always thinking about what could have gone...better. I also ALWAYS am thinking about the state of academic writing that contains little creativity and ingenuity. So, the lightbulb went off.

I thought to myself: "I want them to have fun with this research project in a way and still be creative." I also wanted time to grade assignments, because the days of turning over 75 MLA papers in one weekend are over. I am working on me for me in order to help them. Now, while I was grading my students' papers, I assigned them a GENRE REMIX project. What is a Genre Remix Project you ask? Ask Jennifer Serravalo. I was reading The Writing Strategies Book and pondered over a page that looked like this:

Originally, this was an In the Middle Atwell strategy, however, seeing it in this context got me thinking. Also, I was watching the music video channel station that just so happened to show a song remix...and the Genre Remix Project was born. 

Project Rollout

I knew there was a chance that they would look at me and be like, "Mrs. Hampton this is stupid." However, I wanted to take the chance. I stood in front of them and pitched the idea. Let's take your research paper topics (Advanced is looking at The Roaring Twenties) and turn them into (cue dramatic voice) ANY GENRE YOU WANT!

They loved it. They immediately got excited. I had to review some forgotten genres, but after a conversation, they really got into it. I got a variety of questions and comments because many students had not wanted to "break the rules." This comes with understanding academic writing in that they are so afraid to make mistakes with formatting that we need to remind them it is okay to break the rules. Writing is messy. Writing involves mistakes and fun. There is a reason why I don't allow white-out in my classroom. Something about a mistake should make us feel alive. So, they started. I gave them three days. They made boardgames, short stories, poems, pictures, graphic novels, and more.

Here are some of The Roaring Twenties Genre Research Genre Remix Research Topics:

  • Al Capone nursery rhyme
  • 19th Amendment Women's Right to Vote Poem
  • Walt Disney Board game
  • Langston Hughes Poetry Analysis and Poster
  • Henry Ford Assembly Line Board Game (Setup like the game of Life...I laughed)
  • Treaty of Versailles Graphic Novel 
  • Adelaide Hall Record 
  • Ellis Island Immigration short story

They were instructed to present to each other to share on the final day using the Adaptive Schools short fires strategy. They had done peer reviews with their MLA Research Papers, yet the energy was different on this final day. They had learned claims, reviewed introductions, evaluated elaboration with evidence, covered in-text citations, and had perfected works cited pages. But, they also just wanted to have fun with all of their new-found information. We forget, this school thing should be fun. It was inspiring to see them sharing their projects and teaching their peers about a topic that may have been lost to them at the beginning of the Research Unit. 

Some Images to Share

Writing Mindset Reflection: How can you incorporate creative writing or "fun" into academic projects? What do students enjoy?