My students are working on multi-genre research papers. I stumbled on the idea while reading Tom Romano's Writing with Passion (which is geared toward teachers, but I found very liberating as a writer as well). Basically, instead of researching then puking the facts onto a page--a project guarenteed to be boring to write and boring to grade--they will create five or more shorter works in genres of their choosing, so long as information on the subject is portrayed and reserach on the topic is evident. Naturally, we will be testing out several genres over the coming weeks. Currently, we are working on dialogue.
There's a hitch.
Why, when all the authors out there can quote the Turkey City Lexicon or Elmore Leonard, and tell folks that 'said' is the invisible word and the only thing needed as a dialogue tag, area ll the teachers telling kids to avoid 'overuse' of the word by using billions of synonyms.
When I tell my kids that they should use said 99% of the time, they think I'm nuts. (My 1% exception is using 'whispered' occasionally). Un-teaching is much harder than teach, believe me.