“Powerful Words and PowerPoint Movies: An Exercise in Multimodal Composition”
Assistant professor and Director of First-Year Writing at Northwestern State University in Louisiana
Thomas has presented nationally on technology and first-year composition.
60% of course is traditional requirements
40% can choose
We spend more time on the 40%, because it connects.
Learn by doing.
Read and write every day.
Begin class with video or article on social media. Related to class for the day.
Try to build community in classroom.
Let students bring media, email or FB.
After our teaching time, will return to the media as a writing comp.
Not just an academic conversation. Can be part of the online discussion.
Football, Jan 22, 2014 game winning play, talking trash, making choking image, yelling and excited—Richard Sherman football player
Led to an insane amount of online chatter where he was labeled a thug.
Stanford graduate (3.9 GPA) Richard Sherman
Watched video of press conference
“Cultural Studies and the Composition Classroom” George, Lockridge and Trimbur
moving from critic, to microethnographer, to producer/composer
–not always easy, being forced to build things in a different way
They are trained already to write. Are comfortable trying to write
“know what the expectations are and know they aren’t going to meet them”
“New Media Principles and Attitudes” Collin Gifford Brooke
more than teaching to the text
function as a writer’s lab: encourage experimentation and innovation
operate on “internet time”—entering the “other” conversations
replace expertise with exploration and engagement: student-centered and peer-directed
40% of class, where they may have discovered something new that will keep them reading and writing
National Congress of American Indians released ad week before Superbowl
Series of images with names they give for themselves
They couldn’t afford the Superbowl prices.
Native Americans call themselves many things (mother, soldier, Creek). The one thing they don’t… Redskins.
Talked about which were more effective. Which were less effective.
What kinds of conversations are happening publicly about their ethnicity?
Better if make images so they cover the whole white space
How is a ppt presentation different from a ppt movie?
Because already have experience with ppt, easier.
“make a bad ppt” for tech writing
asked them to self-select into groups
had to publish it somewhere online. But vimeo was an option so they could password protect.
All knew would be screened in class.
Negotiated in class. Had to have some image and some sound.
Voice was significant to the ad.
Negotiated about assessment. Let them decide what they are going to be graded on.
Logical fallacies, ethos, pathos
…8 video examples… (from groups)
thug, animal abuse, poverty, Trayvon Maritin, Same sex marriage…
one of stipulations they agreed on was they had to be in their videos
what makes a thug? Gun violence, gangs, tattoos, stereotypes assumed by characteristics
plenty of things they did really well and others where they fell short
worked hard negotiating images and examples
give them a space to play, a space for their own voices and ideas
critique and assessment
Students discussed and decided on these as criteria. 50% of the grade was:
clarity of topic and stance = who saying what and why?
Importance of issue = answer So what? How is context provided?
Rhetorical appeals = how does it work? Where does it not work?
Design and style = does it meet genre expectations? Is it appealing?
Audience engagement = were you moved? Why or why not? They wanted grade based on this totally. They thought it was important enough.
Students get feedback within the screening.
Took me a week to get through the videos.
They were invested in what they had to say and defending their own work, but also to holding each other accountable.
How might they transition this video to an essay? What about an academic argument?
Develop examples. Pick other kinds of examples.
Teams and their roles
They talk about their learning.
Redeveloping for definition essay… Good way to write about words they feel labeled by and offended by and deconstruct those for the class.
Question: What if have no words they feel labeled by? Or they don’t want to deal with?
Way I am beginning project, words that are offensive, and potential of language to be empowering and disempowering
My hope is that they will all find a word. Don’t know what to do if I have a resistor.
Someone else –use term and look at connotation, denotation. Misfit words instead. Not necessarily offensive.
“sweet” or “cute”
sweet in black community also refers to gay people, broken wrist, etc
pull in connotation of plays, music, etc. Where do you see this word used.
Immigration, did you make presentations on this?
Service learning on immigration
Powerful visuals… Students found the visuals. Some were personal images.
One with guys showing off guns. They go to the shooting range, but people see that in Louisiana, they think thugs.