Assigning your students to compose multimodally
Think about moving across media. Analysis is always a productive first step in the composing process. If you plan to have students transform a piece of writing using different media, you might have them chose a particular piece of writing and follow it through media. If students are Twlight fans, for instance, and have read the books, you might critically engage them in a discussion of the differences and similarities between the book and the movie or other media experiences—for instance, fan fiction based on Twilight (see http://www.fanfiction.net/book/Twilight/), or Twilight in 30 Seconds Reenacted by Bunnies (see http://www.angryalien.com/aa/twilightbuns.asp). You might invite them to think about what each “version” of the original story emphasizes (character, mood, relationships) and how the mode or combination of modes affects the opportunities for the composer.
Transform an essay. Once your students have completed one or two pieces of writing in your course, assign them to go back to a completed piece, perhaps an essay, and transform it into another genre—one that uses more than one mode. Prompt them to think through the purpose of the composition, identify a specific audience for the composition, and plan visual and/or audio elements that will help fulfill the goals of the project for the chosen audience and chosen genre.
Argue with audio. Consider adding a twist to your argument essay assignment. As a part of drafting, ask your students to make a radio ad for the position that they are arguing. A radio ad could help students hone their thesis and could encourage peer reviewers to identify gaps in the evidence. After the radio ads and feedback, students can go on to revise their essays. You might even consider letting students submit their essays as audio files.
Compose with familiar genres. Some of the “unfamiliarity” of multimodal composing can be addressed by working with familiar genres—such as that of the public service announcement, or PSA. Even if students don’t know these by name, they’ve seen hundreds of them, and these documents lend themselves well to both analyzing and composing in the writing classroom. Consider having students analyze and then create a poster, a brochure, or a short (30-second) video PSA on a topic relevant to your campus.