This year in College Comp I decided to try a braided essay. We do a multi-genre research paper in College Comp II, so I thought the braided essay might be a good preface for that.
I designed the essay around an expertise or passion. Students would write three essays and then braid them together so we would get a view of their passion or expertise that was segmented but, hopefully, also more complete and thorough as the segments worked together to offer a unique perspective into the passion or expertise.
First, we brainstormed and did some exploratory writing on our passions. It was quite interesting to see the topics role in: sports, procrastinating, Madden '09, snooping for Christmas presents, paintballing, shopping, languages, photography, chocolate chip cookies . . .
Once students had some initial thoughts down, I had them try to isolate one moment from their experience with whatever they are an expert at or passionate about that best illustrates the expertise or passion.
Then I had them write an analysis of their expertise or passion.
Finally, I gave them several options for the third essay. They could write a personal history regarding their passion or expertise. They could write a how-to guide. They could write a series of descriptive pieces.
Once those drafts were done and shared and discussed, the real work began - weaving them together.
It wasn't easy and never pretty, but the students really did some great work on this.
Two of the best pieces are included here. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.