Today’s guest blogger is Kim Haimes-Korn, a Professor of English and Digital Writing at Kennesaw State University. Kim’s teaching philosophy encourages dynamic learning and 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website: Acts of Composition.
For this assignment, students explore historical contexts through oral and visual histories of a time period or event. They read, watch videos, listen to historical accounts, and follow up with an experiential journey to a museum on the same subject. Although teachers can choose any time period or subject that fits in with their course content, I had students focus on WWII oral histories and then attend a campus exhibit to extend upon that knowledge in this particular class. In addition to interacting with these digital and visual stories, students curate their own images at the museum to contribute to a collaborative slide show in which they both choose an individual perspective and work together to read across their ideas and images. Teams create a presentation with images, impressions, and take-aways.
Background Readings and Resources
The St. Martin's Handbook, 8e: Ch. 11: Conducting Research; Ch. 17: Oral and Multimedia Presentations
The Everyday Writer, 7e: (also available with Exercises): Ch. 10h: Conduct Field Research; Ch. 19c: Create Slides or Other Visuals
EasyWriter, 7e: (also available with Exercises): Ch. 11f: Doing Field Research, Ch. 10: Creating Presentations
Steps to the Assignment
- Background Research/Reading: Before the museum visit, I ask students to do background research, establish context, and familiarize themselves with oral forms. There are many online sites and databases that support digital resources (audio and video stories) and allow students to immerse themselves beyond just reading written texts. I generally provide sites with many opportunities to promote exploration so students can find their way into the subject and select stories based on their particular interests. For example, here are some of the resources I used to engage them for this project:
Students briefly summarize and share their selected stories and ideas with others and through an online discussion.
- Schedule a Museum Visit: Instead of meeting in our regular class, I had students meet at the Museum of History and Holocaust Education which was on our campus. I worked with the museum staff ahead of time to shape the experiential portion of the assignment and select the subject matter. Although the assignment can be completed without the museum visit, it takes the stories and adds another multimodal dimension through visual artifacts and interactive exhibits.
- Image Curation: Each student tours the museum and curates at least five images that represent their impressions/ideas from the exhibits. They should take field notes, capture quotations, and write down their impressions from their visit.
- Students prepare individual slide for team project/meeting: Students choose one of the images and create an individual slide to contribute to a team slide show on the exhibit. They include their image and a short description along with a specific reference or quotation that supports their impressions and include their name at the bottom of the slide.
- Teams Create a Collaborative Slideshow: Team members present their individual slides to the group to combine for a team presentation that addresses meaningful observations, interpretations, and ideas from the exhibit. In addition to their individual observations, team members complete follow-up slides in which they synthesize individual perspectives with a bulleted list of take-aways from the experience as they read across them as a group. They are required to title the presentation and include a team photo at the end, along with references.
- Presentation: Team members present their slideshows to the class and compare observations from the other groups.
Reflection on the Activity
I like this assignment because it involves students in several types of multimodal learning and composing experiences. They engage with digital oral and visual histories, visual artifacts, and experiential learning. The assignment asks them to move beyond passive reading and bring their subjects to life through these multimodal extensions. Although all of the students attended the same museum, it was interesting to see where they chose to focus their attention. Some students focused on the visual artifacts of the time period, such as propaganda posters, while others looked at gender roles during the war, racial disparity, and regional participation. Others explored lifestyle artifacts that represented cultural ideologies of the time, typical living spaces, lifestyle artifacts, and occupational trends. I found the students much more engaged when they connected with the interactive digital resources and immersive experiences than if they just read the texts on their own.