Posts Tagged ‘narrative’

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More than a Textbook

posted: 11.11.13 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

Today we welcome guest blogger Dr. Jim Haendiges. Jim is an Assistant Professor of English at Dixie State University in Saint George, Utah. He teaches courses on technical and professional writing as well as visual design in documents and multimedia authoring. These courses correspond with his research interests in visual literacy and digital interfaces in education. Apart from his research, Jim likes playing video games with his children and reading comic books to them for bedtime stories.

I was sold on the premise of Understanding Rhetoric even before I saw chapter outlines and mock pages. Comic books have been a hobby and academic interest of mine for several years, and I have been waiting for a textbook like this to use in my classroom instead of presenting my students with Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and saying, “Trust me, this type of visual format works for a writing course, too.” Needless to say, I did not need any strong convincing to use Understanding Rhetoric in my college introductory writing course this semester. But I really wasn’t sure how my students would react. [read more]

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Categories: Guest Bloggers
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Writing a Teaching Philosophy

posted: 8.6.13 by Traci Gardner

In a marvelously ironic twist, I have spent the last several days working on a teaching statement for a job application. You may recall that just a few weeks ago, I marveled that I had never had to write a teaching philosophy. Apparently, the fates heard my boast and set about rectifying the situation. [read more]

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Categories: Traci Gardner
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Learning by Writing

posted: 2.13.12 by archived

Some interesting work in composition research addresses the ways that writing represents an advanced form of thinking, conceptualization, and memorization. See, for instance, Janet Emig’s work on “Writing as a Mode of Learning.” Also, a few weeks ago, Wired magazine summarized a recent study showing that students actually study best by writing essays. The study originally appeared in the journal Science. As writing teachers, we often believe in the power of writing—and we try to communicate it to other teachers and to our students. I know I do. But I also know that sometimes I lose sight of an important fact.

Yes, it is so important to see writing “as a mode of learning,” or as a type of “higher-order thinking.” Otherwise, it is too easily seen as just a skill. But look a bit more closely at the recent Wired study. It shows that most students were best able to memorize information about a series of scientific articles that they read when they studied by writing a short essay about the articles. On average, writing worked much better than concept-mapping or other “elaborative studying” techniques. Writing an essay rather than creating a concept map, for most students, even prepared them to create better concept maps when they were later tested. You can’t get much better evidence for the power of writing than that. [read more]

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Categories: Jay Dolmage, Uncategorized
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New Narrative Interfaces

posted: 8.15.11 by archived

A few months ago I wrote about video game adaptations of great literary works. I have also written about the ways that our online presence tells a story about us, and how we can revise what that story says. This week’s post will be an appendix to both of those posts, offering a few more links and ideas. I suppose I continue to be curious about the new forms that narratives can take through multimedia—and also the ways in which these forms themselves shape us.

The first place I want to take you is the Intel Museum of Me. This site allows you to use your Facebook profile to generate an interactive virtual museum of yourself—a “visual archive of your social life.” The experience of moving through this museum, for me, was kind of freaky. There is emotional piano music and children singing; you see your friends, the most common words you use on your wall, the things you “like.” At one point, robotic arms are shown assembling all of the profile pictures of your friends into a composite image which, when you zoom out, is your own profile picture. This scene encapsulated the feeling of the experience for me: it is oddly both very personal and totally automated. I felt the museum both humanized my Facebook identity and totally alienated me from it. This museum is about me—but it is also about selling computers. (There is a lot to unpack here. Allan Sekula would have a field day with this.) I can’t wait to use this in the classroom and to see what responses students have to this. [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Jay Dolmage, Teaching with Technology
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How I Got Here, From There

posted: 9.10.10 by archived

The personal narrative assignment is the first prompt most college writers are given in writing class. I wrote about this assignment in a BITS post from the start of the Fall semester last year. At that time, I suggested some ways to alter the personal narrative assignment to encourage even greater originality (some example assignments included autoethnographies, audio narratives, literacy narratives, multigenre and multivocal variations, and so on). You can also access some ideas that I suggested for in-class writing (timelines and artifacts, as well as playlists, sketches, and storyboards). In today’s post, I suggest further personal narrative activities, inspired in part by a comic strip I used to read when I was a kid and by an article I recently read on Slate.com.

You might remember the Family Circus comic strip, a single panel staple of the Sunday funnies, now over fifty years old. One interesting, recurrent visual trope was a map of the path that one of the Family Circus kids (often Billy) took through the neighborhood in a given day. For some reason, I always loved these maps. The article in Slate, written by Julia Turner, discusses (and reprints) hand-drawn maps. (Other examples of this unique art form can be found on handmaps.org.) With the advent of the GPS, GoogleMaps, and MapQuest, it seems like the hand-drawn map could become obsolete, but Turner’s article makes an interesting case for the virtues of these sketches. I like the idea that a map can be about more than just traveling from point A to point B. Billy’s maps, for example, were really inventories of his imagination. [read more]

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Categories: Drafting, Jay Dolmage, Writing Process
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