Friday, September 23, 2011

What Video Compositon Classes Look Like

Lovett, Maria, et al. "Writing with Video: What Happens When Composition Comes Off the Page?" Raw (Reading and Writing) New Media. Eds. Ball, Cheryl and James Kalmbach. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2009. Print.

This chapter, co-authored by Katherine Gossett who very recently taught at Old Dominion, looks at a class taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I) entitled Writing with Video, considered an advanced composition course. Students in this course use the writing process to create films for class. Lovett et al explain: “The course seeks not just to have students write more or create slick videos but to have students recognize the multiple modes available to them in making meaning” (5).* The writers continue on by saying that what they aim for students to get out of such a class is the realization that multimodal texts do rhetorical work (6). While film making and editing is an obvious part of this process, the students take scrupulous notes or organize and journals to reflect on their composition process during the semester. One student has more than 20 pages of written text based on her ten minute film (13). The article concludes with some very practical looks at how to incorporate what is an interdisciplinary class at U of I, including funding of technology and teachers, departmentalization, and the cross teaching of instructors. The premise behind the whole article is to explain why such classes should be taught and then to inform others on how to go about incorporating into a curriculum.

The article makes the point that film making is a key resource in the teaching of composition and applying rhetoric outside of writing. In some ways it is exactly what I need to be reading, to see how a class was created around the ideas of rhetoric, composition, and film. The article is theory and pedagogy driven with practical examples of that theory in practice. It’s not a perfect match, though. The article is looking at an advanced composition course and I am thinking more of an introductory class for my paper. It does, however, give great insight as to what great things using multimodal techniques in introductory classes can lead to in later classes. It also reinforces the idea that we do a disservice to students by only teaching them how to write a standard academic paper.

*Note: I am actually working from an unpaginated pdf of the chapter. I will borrow the book from the library if I choose to use this source for my paper. This is my current source:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Good Start

Jewitt, Carey. "Multimodality and Literacy in School Classrooms." Review of Research in Education 32 (2008): 241-67. Print.

Carey’s article serves as an introduction to multimodal teaching and literacy in the classroom. She is actually looking at how using multimodal technologies and techniques affect the way that we learn. She argues that the presentation of information in the classroom changes both what is learned and how it is learned. She later argues that if we are going to use multimodal examples in class, we need to be creating multimodalt exts as well.

Carey’s article covers a lot of area in 28 pages. Based in England, she is studying the use of digital media, print, image, and body language in classrooms that span preschool, primary school, and higher learning (and three countries). Carey starts by explaining the move from a focus on literacy to literacies that has happened over the past 15 years. This has happened as a result in our culture’s shift from print to digital. Communication has in no way decreased as a result, but, as Carey notes, “writing as the dominant mode is increasingly brought into new textual relations with, or even exchanged for, visual and multi-modal forms of expression (244). The understanding becomes that teaching only writing as words limits students’ understanding of current culture and may even work counter to their understanding of text. Simply put, students ‘read’ more than just books.

She goes on to discuss studies done in multimodal teaching. Modes are different forms of communication that include, but do not end at, language. Carey’s examples range from the creation of a cross-cultural alphabet book a class created to the study of music or pictures in a class. No mode should be put above another and technology is not the only mode that can be brought into the classroom. In the classroom, this is a shift from lecture and discussion to creation. Students will bring themselves and their literacies into the classroom to create these new texts.

She ends by realizing some of the challenges that multimodal teaching brings into the classroom. Variances in modes mean that students must ‘read’ multiple texts in class, often converting what they know of one mode into another. She adds that body language is another mode in the classroom. A teacher’s body language can really affect the way a class learns. So, students must become expert readers and teachers must do all they can to relay meaning.

I am planning on doing my project on multimodal teaching, especially how to creating multimodal texts in a writing classroom. Carey’s article works as a good introduction to the idea of multimodal teaching and is a great place to start. The wealth of information she tries to take on means that she touches on a lot of ideas, but doesn’t go into anything with depth. She acknowledges at the end that her discussion of multimodal teaching leaves open a lot of discussion. What she does give is a good definition of multimodal teaching and a lot of great examples of what that can look like. I think it’s a useful article to establish one in the conversation.