Posts Tagged ‘Purdue OWL’

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More Resources for Poster Analysis

posted: 9.23.09 by Traci Gardner

Earlier this week, I shared 16 War Poster Sites for Persuasive Analysis, but I know you need some additional resources before you can ask students to work through a poster independently. That’s today’s focus.

First, for a general overview of how visual documents work, visit the Purdue OWL’s Visual Rhetoric: Analyzing Visual Documents. The site focuses on how to write an analytical essay, but the general information will work for analytical class discussion as well.

To practice in class, use the visual analysis exercises at Bedford/St. Martin’s Re: Writing site. The Preview Exercises on Proximity from the ix visual exercises CD-ROM discusses how grouping and spacing elements in a visual design contribute to the overall message that a text communicates.

If you’d like a structured list of questions, you have several options. You can try the Document Analysis Questions from ReadWriteThink, the War Poster Analysis from the Truman Presidential Library, or the Poster Analysis Worksheet from the National Archive. All three sites outline questions that students can use or their own or that you could use to lead class analysis.

For classroom discussion, I find the analysis questions can make things a bit too stiff and scripted. I devised a mnemonic to guide our conversations. Once we’ve worked through all five letters, I know we’ve touched on all the aspects of a basic analysis:

Mnemonic Example Discussion Questions
W: Words What words are there? What is their tone? How do they relate to the other information on the poster?
I: Images How do the photos and illustrations contribute to the message? Are they polished? Formal? Informal?
L: Layout How does the arrangement of the words and images work? How are the components grouped? How do they coordinate or contrast?
C: Color What colors are used on the poster? How do the colors affect the message?
O: Overall What is the overall impression of the poster? How do the different parts combine to communicate a message? How effective is the poster at its purpose?

In addition to working for more informal discussion scenarios, these areas that the mnemonic covers, like the Preview Exercises on Proximity, are more general than the structured lists. You can work through the different areas of WILCO with any poster (not just war posters) as well as with other visual documents like PowerPoint slides, billboards, or Web pages.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Document Design, Popular Culture, Visual Argument, Visual Rhetoric
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What If Students and Teachers Tweeted for Help?

posted: 7.22.09 by Traci Gardner

I’m jealous of @comcastbonnie. Okay, that’s a little extreme. I wish I had the resources she has and could use them to help writing students and teachers.

Bonnie Smalley, also known as @comcastbonnie, was the focus of “A Day with 400 Tweets Starts with Simplicity,” a recent New York Times article that describes how she provides customer service for the cable TV and Internet service provider Comcast.

As the article explains, Smalley is “one of 10 representatives who reach out to customers through social networks, rather than waiting for them to find Comcast’s support site.”

Imagine if we could do the same thing to help student writers! I’d love to prowl the Internet, on the lookout for students lamenting that they can’t figure out an assignment or they can never remember how to use the semicolons.

If I ran a writing center, I’d set up and publicize a school hashtag and then ask online tutors to watch for basic questions. In quick exchange on Twitter, a tutor could answer simple questions about grammar and punctuation, define literary terms, and point to additional explanatory Web pages on a site like the Purdue OWL or Colorado State’s Writing Studio. When student writers ask more complex questions, tutors can encourage them to set up an appointment for a more in-depth session.

If we could support students the way @comcastbonnie runs customer service, writing program administrators might monitor the Internet for questions about program requirements, prerequisites, and course registrations. An English Department could answer similar questions for majors and minors as well as for incoming students and those interested in applying.

But why limit the help to students? Just think how we’d benefit as teachers from having someone out there on the Internet dedicated to helping us find what we need just when we need it — whether it’s standards and guidelines, convention details, or a second opinion on a troublesome situation. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could “reach out” and give them the help they need when they need it? Now there’s a job I’d love to have!

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Categories: Collaboration, Student Success, Teaching Advice, Writing Center
Read All Traci Gardner