Worth 40% of your final grade
See the calendar for all the dates and readings. You’ll work on this project for the rest of the term, doing an oral presentation during one of the last class sessions.
The Project Assignment
Your job is to take an existing story (fiction or nonfiction) told primarily in the linguistic mode and translate it into a new multimodal version. The idea of remaking an old story in a new way should be familiar to you. Anytime a movie is made that is based on a book, those involved are creating a new multimodal version of the original linguistic-focused text.
You are not limited to making a movie-version of your text however. For this project, I want you to think creatively about how to represent the text in a new format and genre. Nearly anything goes. I only ask that you use at least three modes of communication. You may stick closely to the original version of the story or event, or you may reimagine the story from another perspective. Your options are open on this assignment.
- A blog post for each class session that summarizes and reflects on your work to date.
- An informal proposal and annotated bibliography, sent to me as an email message.
- An in-class pitch of your topic (2 to 3 minutes, with 2 to 3 slides if desired), following details in Chapter 3.
- A rough cut for peer feedback.
- A final draft posted on your WordPress site.
- An oral presentation of your project, following details in Chapter 8.
Step 1. Choose a story.
Choose a story that you like or are interested in exploring. I suggest you aim for a shorter, rather than a longer story to base your project on. An entire novel would be far too much. Focus on something like a well-known fable, fairy tale, myth, or historical event. An older story may be easier to work with than a recent story. Choose a story that is classroom-friendly. Nothing X-rated or otherwise inappropriate please.
Be sure that you focus your story very specifically. Let’s say you were going to try working on a historical event. The U.S. Civil War is far too broad for this project. You would need to focus that topic much further to something like a particular skirmish, a specific decision that a soldier or military leader made, or a particular document (like a speech, a proclamation, or even a photo). Lincoln would be to broad. Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” could work. Focusing on the story behind one or more of these Gettysburg Photos or a draft of the Address would be fine.
Step 2. Do some preliminary research on your story.
Go to the library or go online and find three different (and credible) versions of the story you will explore. Evaluate the credibility or your sources with the information on pp. 58–60 in Writer/Designer.
Stories are told by many people and from many different perspectives. Your goal is to have plenty of source material to choose from as you create your new version. Think of these resources as your inspiration, as the base from which your adaptation will begin. If you were working on the “Gettysburg Address” topic I mention in Step 1, you might use both the photos and the draft as well as a first-person report on the events as your basic source documents.
Your main source should be a text that relies primarily on the linguistic mode. Your additional choices can use other modes of communication. You may also choose more then three sources if you desire. You will informally propose your topic by midnight, Sunday, March 23rd.
Step 3. Pitch your project.
You will explain your plans for your project to the class in 2 to 3 minutes, relying on the ideas in Writer/Designer, Chapter 3 (especially pp. 54–56). You may share 2 to 3 slides if you want, but it’s not a requirement. We will simply go around the classroom with each person explaining their plans for the project to the class.
You can use the questions on p. 56 of Writer/Designer to plan what you want to say. You will need to identify the original story, your remix plans, and the genre you are planning to use. If you do have slides or a webpage you want to display in class, send me the link by 8 AM on Thursday, March 27.You will pitch your project on Thursday, March 27.
Step 4. Develop and refine your project.
Following the resources in Writer/Designer, Chapter 4, 5, 6 and 7, you will collect sources and assets, design your citations, develop mock-ups and storyboards, and draft and revise your project (from rough cut to rough draft to final project). You can find full details on all these tasks in the textbook, and we will discuss them in class.
Step 5. Present your project.
Following the resources in Writer/Designer, Chapter 8, you will deliver and present your remixed story. You will have approximately 7 minutes for your class presentation. Your classmates will preview your story on your WordPress site as homework.
In your presentation, you will focus on sharing details about how you worked and the decisions that you made. Use the information on pp. 132–135 of Writer/Designer to determine what information to include. You will create some kind of digital presentation (using Google slides, Prezi, Present.me, etc.). If you go with slides, the maximum length is 28 auto-advancing slides to ensure your presentation fits in the 7-minute time slot.
Email me the URL to your Google Slides by midnight on the day before your presentation (no grace period).
For this project, I want to see you deeply engaged in your project. Specifically, I am looking for these behaviors:
- Attendance: You need to be here every session. If you decide to skip sessions because we are “just working on the projects in class,” your grade will suffer.
- Timeliness: Don’t show up late, leave early, disappear for 15 minutes, and so forth. I want to see you in the classroom and working on the project.
- Readiness: Be in the classroom and ready to go. Have what you need with you to work, and be prepared to collaborate with classmates.
- Risktaking: You need to take risks and be willing to go back to a previous version if those risks don’t work out. Safe, easy choices are boring. I want to see you stretch yourself.
- Feedback: You need to listen to feedback from me and your classmates and then use that feedback to revise and improve your work. If you choose not to follow our advice, you need to have a very good reason that you can articulate.
Everyone starts this project with a B/C. How you participate changes that grade higher or lower. You can earn an A (see tips below). You’ll earn a B if you participate in good, but average ways. You’ll earn a C if you decide to skip classes or stop trying but still turn in the work. You’ll earn an F if you don’t try and/or don’t turn in the required work.
If you have questions about your grade potential, come by during office hours. I can’t discuss individual grades in the open classroom because of FERPA regulations. If I believe that you are on a trajectory toward a C, D, or F, I will let you know after looking at the rough cut for your project. If you are participating in the class, then you’re passing and just need to be concerned about your individual goals for earning a B or an A, described more below.
Tips for Earning an A
The grade of A is reserved for excellent work, the kind of work that knocks me down with its impressive nature. Excellent work does not equate with showing up every day, participating once in a while, and turning in your work on time. Those are average achievements, and average work earns a C. Here are some ways to earn an A:
- Produce an excellent project. Do something more than complete the terms of the assignment. Do something amazing. Create the kind of project that I will want to put up on the screen as an example of great work next term.
- Participate excellently in class. Excellence in class participation means contributing in active and generous ways to the work of the class as a whole by asking thoughtful questions, graciously accepting challenges and feedback, and being a productive class member. Participating isn’t simply about contributing to discussion, but also about producing work by participating in the activities we do each day.
- Be an excellent scholar. Specifically, be able to demonstrate to me (through discussions, collaboration, and your drafts) that you understand and can reflect on the content of this class and show progress toward that knowledge in your final project. Be able to recognize different ways of thinking, creating, expressing, and communicating through a variety of media. Finally, develop a capacity for self-assessment and transferable learning.
You might be an excellent student if you
- have a collegial attitude.
- bring your materials to class every day.
- ask for help in advance of a due dates.
- are attentive in class.
- ask your classmates (or Google) for help during class work time, then . . .
- . . . if you’re stumped, write your name on the board for help and wait patiently for help.
- use email or office hours for private or involved questions.
- understand that strategic (and sometimes maximum) effort results in excellent work.
The expectations and assessment sections of this assignment were adapted from Cheryl E. Ball’s undergraduate Multimodal Composition syllabus.