7 ways to tell a story

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Nathan Fitzgerald, Luke Orr, Laren Lenth and Keaton Lane look at the Titanic “artifacts” created by Kayla Kramer.


By Pam Reinig

Register Editor



 A group of Central students last week showed just how creative they could get when told to select a research topic and then use seven genre, 1,500 words and 10 sources to explain it. 

For Nathan Fitzgerald, it meant building a papier-mâché, scale replica of the first atomic bomb and creating trading cards of the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project. For Kayla Kramer, it meant giving a battered suitcase the look and feel of a steamer trunk, and then lining the lid with a schematic that detailed life aboard the ill-fated Titanic. For Keaton Lane, it meant creating a narrated, sightseeing video of New York City.

English teacher Carolyn Yanda assigned the multi-genre research project to her upper-level composition students in mid-November, giving them several weeks to complete their work. Students selected their topics, which Yanda described as varied and less focused on pop culture than previous years. In addition to the subject matter already mentioned, students explored photography, the Star Wars movie franchise, school shootings, basketball, the psychology of color, the Salem Witch trials, the Oregon trial, bobcats, pasta and Jack the Ripper. Creative elements ran the gamut, too, and included poetry, graphics and fact-based creative writing pieces like diary entries, news articles, lists and advice columns.

“The students then organized all of that writing and put it into a topic-appropriate package,” Yanda explained.

Yanda annually assigns the multi-genre research project to give students a “way to experience in-depth research with the ability to cite sources while being innovative and creative with the means of communicating that information.” 

“Instead of looking at topic from one perspective, it can be viewed from all kids of interesting angles,” Yanda explained, adding that group discussion and peer review were integral parts of the assignment.

Since they know it’s coming, some students get a head start on selecting their topics. Fitzgerald said he made a decision last year to research the Manhattan project and the atomic bombs that came out of that work. For others, the choice is more difficult.

“My first topic was softball,” said Lexi Funk, a Central standout in that sport. “I completed six of the seven genres before I decided that it wasn’t my best work. I switched to sleep disorders, and then had to spend the entire Christmas break working on it.”

This year, students had a chance to share their work with the public. The projects were displayed last Tuesday afternoon in the auditorium. A panel of judges ranked both the work and the students’ ability to discuss it. Judges were unanimous in their agreement that students were articulate in presenting their findings and well informed on their subjects. 

Though this is not the first year that Yanda has used the multi-genre project, it is the first time she’s shared the students’ materials with the public.

“I’ve always wanted to showcase their work,” she said. “They put too much time into it to be shared only with me and their classmates. However, timing has always been an issue. I finally decided that even though the afternoon is not the most convenient time, we could make it work.” 

And they did. I know; I served as a judge.








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