The questions to respond to this week will focused on the two books that we are reading for this week and will ask you to synthesize some of your thinking around those concepts. In the beginning of Multimodal Composing in Classrooms, the authors make note that the book focuses on narratives from teachers who have experience working in the multimodal classroom. Thinking about your own teaching experience, describe a time when you encouraged students to use multimodal pathways to grow and learn. This can be a project or lesson you integrated in your classroom. What was the project/lesson? How effective was it? What did you learn as an educator from this experience?
In thinking about the other book we have read recently, Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom, how can we use what the authors present as a model for our own classrooms? In what ways do you see the kinds of activities described in the book as useful to think about when creating lessons and assignments for your students?
After everything we have discussed and learned in Cindy's course this semester, would you change or improve that previous assignment/project/lesson?
I, too, have not had any 'teaching' experience in having students complete multimodal projects, though I have designed plans for such projects in some of my teaching classes. I can say, that as a student completing multimodal projects I have two different views of them: 1) They can be overwhelming, and 2) They can be really fun! So, I guess in response to these particular questions, I would say that using the multimodal project as a composition project in the classroom means we as teachers need to provide our students plenty of guidance on the ways we can think about presenting information. As a college student, the freedom of 'present it anyway you want' is overwhelming, and for secondary students it can be even more so. I envision a multimodal project as being something that could be used as an end-of-the-year project, and as a teacher knowing i will use a multimodal project as EOTY, I would make sure to expose students to the many ways composition can occur both in print and digitally, that way they are able to take all of those modes of composition they have learned about and make good decisions about the best ways to present the information they are wanting to present. I don't think multimodality is something that we can throw at students without scaffolding toward it. I think, too, the ways in which each different type of compositions forces us (the learner) to think about how we are presenting information and how to format of that information changes the way our audience might think is powerful. It has the potential to really make an impact with our students about keeping presentation and audience in mind when they are composing (in whatever way they are composing).
I like include multimodal elements into my CO150 lessons, though I've never integrated them into my students' projects. I try to incorporate video clips and works of art to enhance students' learning. I find doing so really engages students in the lesson. Not only is it a respite from lecture, but video is a model that most students can engage with and analyze. For example, when teaching my students rhetoric, they really struggled with analyzing print-based texts. However, when I showed them commercials, most students excelled at analysis. Practicing on commercials, music, and video clips gave them a strong foundation that allowed us to translate those skills to more challenging print-based texts. It was an interesting insight into how my students best learn.
I love this idea of using digital media to tackle texts. I think this is an effective way to teach students, and I think they do respond well. In the future, I would like to create more opportunities for my students to compose using multimodal mediums. In particular, I think digital storytelling is a rich way to engage students in narrative, composition, and craft.
I like how you touch on the idea that the preface of Multimodal Composing reflects on through the anecdotal reflections of Zachary--this concept of multimodal literacy. It is clear that in the 21st century, focusing on strict print based texts is limiting in building literacy skills for students who are also getting information from imagery, movies and music (to name a few). The struggle is really how do we maintain the importance of print based texts as a crucial component of literacy as it seems to fall into the shadows of more "familiar' texts.
The multimodal project that I taught was during my student teaching experience. I taught a 21st century literacy unit to my students and in that lesson we learned how to use twitter, Facebook, blogging, photo essays, and a few other things. They were to create a their own Unfamiliar Genre Project. This is where they had to create a product in a genre that they were unfamiliar with, or at least it could also be a product based on what we learned, but they had to add a small element that they were unfamiliar with.
Students created videos, blogs, game boards, poems, music, and all other sorts of things combined together. I felt that this lesson was an effective lesson as students were able to have ownership of what they were learning and making in the final project as well as learning what it means to be a productive 21st century digital user. They learned that there is more to technology than just posting pictures of your food to Facebook or using twitter to say asinine comments. They learned that their ability to create in a digital space could go beyond all of that.
What I learned as an educator is that students as young as 6th graders are capable of creating great things when given the chance and that many, at least at that age, found technology to be a tool for the betterment of others and themselves.
I think this is a great idea, James! I think the genre aspect of multimodal projects is really valuable. When students are asked to produce different genres, they have to navigate a new set of issues like how to address audience, purpose, context, etc in this new medium. Sarah, Lindsey, and I were just talking about how students often come to college and are uncomfortable thinking and writing in different contexts. Some are taught a sort of "writing templet", and they become extremely anxious when a teacher asks them to be more independent in their writing. Asking students to write in different mediums and genre's pushes them outside of their comfort zone and asks them to be versatile and willing to adapt.
I've used multimodal projects since, well, since almost forever it seems like since I started teaching in 1987. Gasp. Some of you weren't even alive.
Anyway, part of this undoubtedly goes back to my minor in theatre, but even as a student, I sometimes had opportunities (was required?) to approach projects in a way that wasn't print-based. Although I often embraced these projects, they weren't always generative. They didn't always advance my learning. For instance, my 8th grade science teacher had us create scripts for films (actual films! one a projector and everything!) that she'd somehow stripped of the sound track. Wow, did that project have potential, but it was a total bust for me. I paired up with a partner who wasn't interested in school, so I faked the same disinterest for social reasons. We procrastinated. We learned next to nothing about Crater Lake that I can remember except that it's in Oregon.
When I reflect on that experience, it gives me a little more insight into the many ways students might not embrace multimodal projects, even though like I said, I've consistently assigned them. Like Devyn's experience with the Lord of the Flies project, they've sometimes fallen flat. For instance, after we read The Client by John Grisham, one of my students' multiple intelligences project was a pan of very good lasagna that his mom made (!). He argued that the project was relevant because Reggie, the lawyer in the book, is Italian. Plus, technically, he "fulfilled" the requirements according to my very poorly designed scoring guide (these things are hard to grade!). I still have the lasagna recipe, but did that kid learn anything consequential about the book? Nope.
I've gotten better (I think) at designing generative assignments that advance students' learning, as opposed to just summarizing what they think they've learned, and at figuring how to assess them fairly--mostly by letting students design or provide input on the scoring guide. Students' projects mostly continue to amaze me, especially when they get carried away like the kids in the Moby Dick project did.
Still, every stinkin' time, I get pushback from students who would just prefer to write an essay and have it over and done with. I also get sub-par responses, though not nearly that fall into the pan-of-delicious-lasagna category. That's probably because I now require some print-based element.
This last point is important, I think. Both of the latest readings continue to make the case for print + multimodal evidence of learning, for reading + writing as inseparable processes in an era that is deeply participatory, digital, and multimodal. I've continued to think about Jane's comment last month that her students need BOTH the print and the digital; neither alone is sufficient.
Educators and researchers have done a pretty decent job of emphasizing critical thinking and integrating more critical reading of texts (broadly defined to include film, ads, digital content, etc.), and as I said above, multimodal projects are as old as the hills. (Who among us has not made a diorama?). But I still think we have a long way to go when it comes to the participatory, circulatory, openly networked aspect of composing.
How do we get better at this despite the inadequate supply of tech in schools, the outdated equipment, the filters, etc.? The readings for this week suggest a blend of low-tech and high-tech approaches, but there's an urgency there that I don't think we're adequately heeding as educators. When only 28% of adolescents find school to be meaningful (at least I think that was the statistic in the Multimodal Composing book) AND they're spending the biggest chunks of their lives in these environment, we have to figure out the answers to these questions.
How is YOUR/MY work helping that happen? We're all in it together, friends.
P.S.: Remind me to tell you about the "Shark Tank."
I'll try my best to answer this question as someone who is not an educator, but I have played the role of an "educator" in previous writing groups, most recently in Northern Colorado Writers. There was one meeting in particular filled with mostly adults 50 and older who had no idea how to use social media as a tool of marketing. Using a computer screen to demonstrate creating social media accounts to effective ways of using them integrated many kinds of learning, which was beneficial given the size of the group (about a dozen people or so). This method of learning integrated spacial, visual, and tactile ways of ingesting information. I guess you could say that what I learned as a pseudo-educator was to incorporate as many learning styles as possible into a lesson, so that everyone can benefit in their own way.
In "Remixing Moby-Dick," I initially had my doubts about incorporating modern media and culture into teaching a 19th-century work. I assumed this would white-wash or downplay the significance of the story by failing to understand the context in which it was written. But it takes a talented educator to "update" the book without losing its meaning, and I was impressed at how they were able to relate the themes to uninterested and disengaged students from tweeting in character to writing fan fiction. How much different my learning experience would have been in high school when forced to read books that didn't interest me! This is one of the best ways of getting students involved that I've heard and I'd be interested to hear from other educators in this class who have tried similar tactics.
As of today, I cannot say that I've had many opportunities to include multimodal pathways to provide opportunities for my students to grow and to learn in my classroom. I’ve been sitting here and trying to think of the possible times, and the only one that comes to mind is the use of Padlet, which isn’t necessarily multimodal as it is just a technological tool. Despite this, the purpose for using it in my classroom was to get everyone in the classroom to ‘talk.’ And yes, by talking I mean writing but the goal was to get a conversation going. In this class, I noticed, from observations of the other teacher, that a select amount of students ruled the whole class discussions. I’m sure this is normal for other classes as well but for English language learners (ELLs) sometimes it’s a matter of confidence in their verbal skills that’s limiting their ability to talk. So the use of Padlet, Today’s Meet or Poll Everywhere not only allows me to understand students’ comprehension but more importantly provides them an opportunity to learn and practice English.
Hopefully in my future teaching, I’ll be able to expand upon my use of multimodal pathways much like Remixing Moby Dick. Throughout my reading, I became astounded how this book was able to ‘come alive.’ It truly made me reflect upon when I was required to read certain books in high school and how at moments, it felt like pulling teeth. I concur with Beth in that I’d be interested to see how other teachers use a similar style of including this multimodal tools in their teachings.
Just out of curiosity, what text(s) that you struggled with in high school would you like to re-teach to your students if you could? And how would you incorporate some of the "remixing" strategies we read about? I always think back to Catcher in the Rye, The Odyssey, Ethan Frome..etc. Basically my sophomore year reading list in high school.
The one, and only one, that not only pops into my head, but yells, is the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Saying that I hated that book might be an understatement. I know it's a classic, and I'm sure if I gave it another try as an adult, I might like it. But it was so difficult for me to read the Southern twang that as I continued reading, I became more and more disinterested in the story itself. Reflecting upon it now, it probably feels like a lot of my ESL students might, getting caught up with vocabulary words they don't know instead of seeing the whole picture.
That being said, I think it would've been great to engage former me by tweeting in the characters. I know that might sound counterintuitive, considering I just dispelled the way Jim talked, but I think it could've helped me get over my distaste for the twang. I think once I could've gotten over that, I could have been able to see the bigger picture of what was going on and truly been able to relate to his character more.
...its sad that I can't remember one book I read in high school...what does that say about my education?
Here are some ideas:
When I began teaching Lord of the Flies during my student teaching experience, I knew right away that I wanted to have students complete multimodal projects for their final. I had no idea if it would work, or if I would be able to explain what multimodal meant, but I wanted to at least try.
I initially introduced the multimodal project in a miniature form, that way students would get to experiment with an assignment that was low-risk in terms of points earned. It was exhausting.
Students hated the lack of structure I presented them with, much like I remember Antero's 301D class reacting when he first introduced multimodal projects.
"How will you grade it? What do you mean I can do anything? Do you have any examples? Can we just write a paper? "
The mini multimodal projects ended up being examples that I had suggested, which I didn't know how to avoid. They needed guidance, but the results just ended up looking like my ideas and none of their own. It was just disappointing.
The final projects were just as challenging for them. I received about 20 formal papers, 3 game boards, 2 collages, a journal written in the boys' voices, various art projects, and a handful of students didn't turn in anything. I felt like I had failed to explain what I was looking for and what multimodal projects were and how great they were. It was a bust. There were a few shining stars who really went above and beyond and enjoyed getting to do something different, but I still felt disappointed in myself. It would have been useful to have the Moby Dick book about year ago. Seeing different techniques being implemented to teach a book that most students wouldn't have picked up on their own is truly fascinating. Hopefully after this course and all of our readings, I can be more confident in situations when I am required to teach the "classics," and give students the opportunity to find the relevance in those books.
Devyn, this is actually one of my biggest fears, not just for multimodal projects, but for other somewhat intangible concepts that are hard to explain without giving specific examples. I really appreciated the ways in which the Moby Dick text helped open the door to the ways in which we can prepare students for the type of work we expect. I had the same point in my Teaching Comp class when we were told that our final was the 'free for all' multimodal project - compose what you want in whatever way you want to. I think this harkens back to my first response in that sense of overwhelming feeling going into the project mostly because I didn't have a sense for 'what' it actually was other than what we had read about in a comp book. I think in order for students to be successful at being able to make those creative decisions they have to be exposed to being able to make those kinds of decisions throughout the year (or prior to the project) - whether that is choice about what topic they write about, or which book they read, or choosing from several styles of writing provided by the teacher that slowly exposes them to having agency and choice in the ways that they learn and present what they have learned. I love thinking about using this with younger students, as James said, because it allows students exposure at an early age, so when they get into high school (or college for that matter) they don't panic when they are left to their own devices when it comes to completing a major work of their choosing, multimodal or not. Thank you for sharing your experience!
Here's an idea:
Recently, one of my students said, “Ms. Phelan I miss you as a history teacher, you did so many cool projects. “ And indeed we did. We composed tours of the world in Google Tour Builder integrating text, pictures, videos and motion. We created digital cartoons to examine the issue of child labor. We crafted videos where students interviewed other students dressed as historical figures who traveled to the future to discuss their legacies. We made fakebooks for characters from historical fiction . We twittered in the voices of the people we were studying. But alas, as an English teacher, I have felt incredible pressure to write, write, and write more. After reading some of the narratives in "MultiModal Composing In Classrooms", I feel inspired to reach back to my roots. Currently, we are reading "The Giver", a highly engaging text for blooming teens. The Common Core stresses argumentative writing, and we have been beating that dead horse in my class, but I thought how about instead of writing another argumentative essay we create a multi-modal project for the culmination of "The Giver". So after reading The Giver, several dystopian/ utopian short stories and poems, I am going to ask my students to create their own utopias. Eventually they will present their utopias to class and a debate will ensue and a vote. I would love them to create a video portraying the music, words, sights, sounds, laws, and rituals of their utopia. I think this would be so much more engaging than another argumentative essay, what do you think?
I love this idea. I was a huge fan of "The Giver," when I read it in 7th grade, but I don't actually recall what drew me to the book in class. When I read your idea for the project, it stood out to me as one of those awesome projects you would remember doing for a long time after the fact. As long as they have the time and resources to create a video with all of the requirements you are planning on asking for, I think this could be a stellar project.
Doing this not only tackles those pesky standards, but it also tackles a lot of the multimodal elements and connected learning principles. I say, go for it!
Jane, this is a great idea, and they certainly will have to rely heavily on argumentation when creating a utopia! To get everyone to agree on the same standards and values, people need to be able to effectively argue for their objectives using reasonable evidence! I think this is a good time in the semester to do this, too. They know how to follow the "rules" now you can take them to the next level, outside their comfort zones, and place the argument essay in a different context!
After reading this, I realized how much you were like my favorite teachers in middle school, Mrs. Kronke (although I may have forgotten how to spell her name). She did SO many engaging activities as a history teacher. She had us write to....someone....I think it was a previous historical figure, while pretending that we were in that same time period. So, she encouraged us to use the voice that best represented that time period. All the while having us create 'olden' paper, which meant that I stained it with my dad's old coffee grinds, and nearly set a fire to the kitchen by adding holes to the paper (my parents were thrilled).
What I'm trying to say is- trust your intuition! This project seems like it could truly interest the students while also have them include their 'argumentative piece' since they'll have to defend their utopias!
Great idea and always thinking outside of the box is key.See this:
With the proposal assignment, they are required to use the multimodal element as evidence to back up their claims. In the past, I have had them create websites, brochures, wiki’s, and each of those required digital tools and multimodal tools.
I’m in the process of creating more lessons that use digital media, but I am waiting to meet with my Writing Lead to see if I can implement this next year. I think there are many things I will take away from this class in terms of what I can use in my classroom.
I am curious about this "proposal assignment." What exactly were your students proposing? What did some of the projects look like? Did it require any scaffolding beforehand to have them complete multimodal projects, like Sarah suggests above?
Here's one version of CO150 class where they synthesized everything throughout the semester, and then posted something from all of their information.
In case any of you are interested in all of the resources for Remixing Moby Dick, you can find them here!
I was just talking with a fellow teacher this week about a project a student could do while in New Zealand on family vacation that included multimodal elements. I suggested in lieu of the student completing class worksheets, that they focus on the persuasive elements of writing they are studying in class and make a travel brochure of his experiences and as a means to "sell" the idea of traveling to New Zealand to someone who is unfamiliar with the area. This initial idea snowballed into creating a digital travel brochure to incorporate 21st century elements (photos taken, electronic journal entries, etc.) I would be curious to see how much of what he is learning in class would be enhanced by the application of the concepts into this creative multi-modal platform.