|Today's guest blogger is Kim Haimes-Korn (see end of post for bio).|
As students create multimodal projects they learn the roles and skills of content creators. With our students composing through text and image, it is important that we also focus on composing for visual rhetoric. This series of related assignments introduces students to the practices of digital composers through the creation and sharing of digital galleries.
- Resources on composing for digital images (See list under “Compose” below)
- The St. Martin’s Handbook: Ch. 3e, “Organizing verbal and visual information”; Ch. 16, “Making Design Decisions”; Ch. 18, “Communicating in other media”;
- The Everyday Writer (also available with exercises): Ch. 22, Making Design Decisions
- EasyWriter (also available with exercises): Ch. 3c, “Visuals and Media”
Curate: The practices of curation and repurposing are valuable skills for multimodal composers. Most work in my classes is housed on blogs in which students create a collection of academic works and digital projects. As part of this digital space, I have them dedicate an area/section to curate an image gallery. Each week I give them image assignments (10-20 images per week) that are either content driven and clustered by ideas or focused on visual composing techniques as a heuristic lens. From these assignments they curate an ongoing image gallery with captions. They organize the gallery into a visual layout that allows their audience to easily view them in organized sub-sections to showcase each week’s assignment.
Although students will use them to create content over the term, the curated galleries should also be engaging online spaces when viewed on their own. Through purposeful captioning, students learn the importance of connecting text and image for intentional, rhetorical communication. Captions go beyond naming and speak to meaning, composition, and design.
Compose: Next, we make students aware that visual composition is more than happenstance. We teach them to thoughtfully compose images through visual rhetoric and design aesthetic. They can compose in naturally occurring environments and capture cultural moments or stage scenes that intentionally communicate specific ideas to others. The images each week can stand on their own or can reveal a sequence when viewed together.
I send students out to research and analyze compelling images and supply them with some resources about the practices of visual composers. You can easily find these with a quick internet search but I include a few here—interestingly all in lists of ten.
- Ten Rules of Photo Composition and Why they Work
- Top Ten Composing Tips: Take Your Digital Photography to the Next Level
- Ten Ways to Take Better Pictures with your Smartphone
Collaborate: Like traditional assignments, image work benefits from peer response and the sharing of rhetorical decisions. For this part of the series I have students create a grab-and-go gallery in which they choose an image and explain their rhetorical choices. I open up a blank presentation in Google Slides where they can collaboratively compose a full class presentation of their strongest images. Students first gather in groups and show their images. Group members help choose the strongest of the weekly images.
Each student then takes their strongest image and places it on an individual slide along with the rhetorical and visual choices they made. We then display the whole slideshow. Students take turns presenting as their slide comes up while students in the audience provide feedback and discuss composing techniques and strategies.
Here is an example of one of these grab-and-go galleries designed to emphasize visual composing practices:
This activity gives us an opportunity to see and celebrate the work of others and reinforces the idea that there are rhetorical decisions involved in visual composition. This grab-and-go collaborative presentation is created on-the-spot and is completed within a single class period. It is a quick and easy way to share curated images (and other multimodal projects) and reinforces classroom practices such as digital collaboration and peer response while also teaching valuable visual composing practices.
Guest blogger Kim Haimes-Korn is a Professor in the English Department at Kennesaw State University. Kim’s teaching philosophy encourages dynamic learning, critical digital literacies and focuses on students’ powers to create their own knowledge through language and various “acts of composition.” She likes to have fun every day, return to nature when things get too crazy and think deeply about way too many things. She loves teaching. It has helped her understand the value of amazing relationships and boundless creativity. You can reach Kim at email@example.com or visit her website Acts of Composition.