Using volunteerism to inspire research and writing:
First, students will be given a list of local places in the community. The students are given the freedom to choose one that connects with them personally, research some background on it—go there, talk to people, go on a tour, etc. and then begin several different reports on what they discovered. The reports will serve as both pre-writing and actual writing activities. Students will talk about what the facility looks like, and then create an Objective Report, a Profile/Personal Interview, an Investigative Report, a Letter to the organization, and an Evaluation Essay.
For the Objective Report, students will construct a descriptive paragraph; this will help them to work on writing from the formal, third-person point of view. For the Personal Profile students will write a professional interview and reflection paper. The Evaluation Essay will be a more formal, research-based essay that will follow specific criteria and guidelines. This will tap into the students’ academic, professional writing skills. The Investigative Report integrates secondary research by helping students connect what they researched to other ideas and issues in their world. Finally, the Letter is a way for students to write in the first person format. They will be writing a formal letter, but can include their personal beliefs and ideas.
Overall, this strategy is wonderful because it taps into so many different aspects of writing—professional, technical, academic, creative, and narrative. The topic of the project will be selected by the students themselves, so they will hopefully have personal interest in it as well. I think the strategy is very beneficial because it’s a way to bring in many different styles and types of writing for one single project.