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Lesson Plan

Having My Say: A Multigenre Autobiography Project

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Having My Say: A Multigenre Autobiography Project

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Scott Filkins

Scott Filkins

Champaign, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Students can be guided to make powerful connections between their life experiences and the world surrounding their individual narratives. In this lesson, Elizabeth and Sarah Delany's autobiography, Having Our Say, serves as a model for student texts. Students read and analyze passages from Having Our Say looking for specific examples of multigenre writing within the text. Students then choose to narrate a life event that has connections to or is informed by a larger event in their lives or in the world around them. They compose a multigenre paper that includes the autobiographical narrative essay as well as an informational nonfiction piece that provides context for and connections to the story from their life.

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Autobiographical Narrative Component Peer Review Guide: This handout includes a chart to guide students in a thoughtful peer review of a classmate's autobiographical essay, but it could be adapted for use with any peer review.

Contextual Essay Planning Sheet: This handout provides a chart that guides students in thinking about the kinds of information an audience might need to know to understand their autobiographical essay.

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In Blending Genre, Altering Style: Writing Multigenre Papers, Tom Romano describes his ideal ELA classroom as one in which students "are both consumers and producers of all kinds of literature and media" (43).  As students are exposed to or are expected to have gained "mastery" of certain genres, teachers can challenge students by asking them to combine genres into cohesive multigenre pieces.  In her article discussing the use of multigenre writing assignments in her classroom, Nancy Mack states "I know that assignments must be innovative and interesting enough so that they appear unlike the old drudgery of hackneyed assignments. The format must be open and attractive to invite the possibility of doing something engaging rather than merely pursuing the trivial school game. Topics for writing should make use of the unique knowledge and skills that students already have, connecting school work in a respectful way to things that they value in their personal lives. The completed assignment should be personally significant and full of power and integrity for the author so that the writing itself demands to be heard by a real audience." (98) The writing assignments in this lesson do just that, as they challenge students to write in multiple genres with connections to stories from their lives.

Further Reading

Romano, Tom. 2000. Blending Genre, Altering Style: Writing Multigenre Papers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


Mack, Nancy. "The Ins, Outs, and In-Betweens of Multigenre Writing." English Journal 92.2 (November 2002): 91-98

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