Multigenre Inquiry Project
From Jacqueline Woodson’s novel, Hush, I chose the theme “Witnessing and Responsibility.” This theme asks readers to think about how American citizens view assimilation and cultural pluralism within contemporary social ideology, particularly in terms of imprisonment. Furthermore, it asks us to reevaluate how we react to racial discrimination—do we speak about it or do we remain silent observers? What are the consequences of our action or inaction?
Because of the ongoing media coverage of the Ferguson protests in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown, all of us have become witnesses to racial discrimination. By engaging with the actions and inactions taken in Hush and the current racial discrimination issues in current social justice movements, students can learn more about their own experience as witnesses and how to make a difference in their own communities.
This project consists of the following genres:
1. A short essay synthesizing the themes in Hush with connections to novels, nonfiction, poetry, and current social action events.
2. A series of poems that only use the words on the US governments’ website describing the role of the Witness Protection Program.
3. A poetic dialogue between the voices in Hush and Invisible Man.
4. A Prezi presenting background information on mass incarceration and racial profiling in America.
5. A letter to the editor looking at an opposing viewpoint.
6. A series of social media campaigns designed to inform and involve audiences about racial profiling current events.
7. A high school English lesson plan incorporating the theme of “Witnessing and Responsibility.”
8. This website and its comments.
9. A wordcloud using only the words from the US government’s website on the Witness Protection Program.
10. A personal testimony depicting a situation of witnessing and the action taken.
My hope is that this project opens the classroom for a safe, critical discussion on students’ roles in their communities. Witnessing has become a part of every student’s experience because of the availability of news coverage and media interaction, thus providing more platforms of involvement and action.
By using the English classroom as a place for social action discussion, students can study and create poetry of witness, discover the power of language in speech and in technology, and use multicultural narratives as a catalyst for inquiry and research.