Today’s guest blogger is Jeanne Bohannon (see end of post for bio).
Summer time is prep-time for many of us. We write; we plan; we explore multimodal assignments that will [hopefully] compel our students to engage and find their own voices as they produce various kinds of texts. So, I'm going to craft my summer posts on Andrea's channel as a series of digital drop-in assignments, both from me and my writing studies colleagues, complete with templates and deliverables for readers to edit and use as they want. As one of my colleagues put it, "let's get a jump start."
Context for Assignment #1: Student Voice and Choice
Often, the first weeks of class can be an interesting combination of awkward, "getting to know you" moments. This assignment uses democratic teaching methods and multimodal options to give students opportunities to showcase their voices and share them with their coursemates. By using the Scholar's Choice template, and editing it to suit their individual needs, instructors invite students to write their personal introductions as blogs, video essays, podcasts, or e-posters. Students use the first-person Grading Criteria to formatively assess and reflect on their own work. As a final nod to choice, students may present their digital pieces for the class to introduce themselves to the community.
Measurable Learning Objectives for the Assignment
- Practice digital writing strategies across multimodalities
- Reflect on self-choice in one's own composing
- Create texts for a specific audience and invention heuristics
Digital Deliverables for Classroom Use
- Scholar's Choice Assignment Letter/Template
- Sample Feedback Criteria/Rubric
- Traci Gardner's "Teaching With Blogs"
- My Five Visual Essay Elements
- My Podcast Checklist
- Multimodal Elements for Students
Based on the assignment template, students may choose to introduce themselves to the class by composing blogs, video essays, podcasts, or electronic posters. They write and design their personal introductions based on the general and specific criteria in the grading checklist. For example, blogs are a more conversational genre of writing, so students should write less formally, inviting dialogue with readers with elements such as embedded audio/video/images and tags (Pictochart is a good resource). When writing video essays, students should attend to elements of voice, design effects, and sound. Likewise, they must attend to sound and cover art when recording podcasts. With e-posters, made usually from PowerPoints or Prezis, students should make sure to emphasize arrangement.
An adaptive feature of this assignment is that it provides students with their choice of genre and can be modified for each instructor's rhetorical focus. This assignment also lends itself to digital, democratic learning, because students choose their methods of composition, reflect on their process, and have the opportunity to present their work to their peers.
Students' Reflections on the Assignment
"Choosing how I wrote this assignment was intimidating at first, because I've never had a choice in what genre I got to write in. But, this choice helped me engage with my work in a way that I have never done before." -- Anon
"As a Computer Science major, I need to make my writing courses applicable to my major. This assignment nailed it! I did require more explanation, but if a professor is accessible during office hours, you will not have any issues." -- A.G.
I think that this spin on class introductions reaches out to student-writers to give them voice and choice in their own compositions. The Scholar's Choice Introduction Assignment counts for me in terms of multimodal composition because it provides a digital artifact of students' rhetorical reflections on their own invention and affords them opportunities to use their digital texts to connect with their classmates. Please try this assignment and let me know what you think!
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Jeanne Law Bohannon is an Assistant Professor of English in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Kennesaw State University. She believes in creating democratic learning spaces, where students become stakeholders in their own rhetorical growth though authentic engagement in class communities. Her research interests include evaluating digital literacies and critical engagement pedagogies; performing feminist rhetorical recoveries; and growing informed and empowered student scholars. Reach Jeanne at: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.rhetoricmatters.org