Module 3: DOCUMENTING YOUR LIFE: MULTIMODAL
How has the past year challenged or changed you?
I want to encourage you to reflect on this momentous time in history, and record and react to the dramatic events like the pandemic (and its effects such as the rise in unemployment or online learning), the protests for racial justice, the 2020 election, the insurrection, the anti-Asian Hate crimes, the vaccine and other events that will define your generation– but I want you to think about them as they affect your everyday life. This is a big big time. Let’s hear what you have to say about it!
In this assignment, you will make a multimodal text (we’ll talk more about this later, but basically, it will need to have words and images, or words and sounds– or maybe all three) that answers one (or both) of the following questions:
How has the past year challenged or changed you?
What have you learned from the hardships of the past year that you would like to share with others?
You will also create an artist’s statement or author’s statement to accompany your text!
Of course, this is a big question– so you’ll need to get specific. You’ll find some particular aspect of the year to focus on. If what you learned was how to bake bread– that’s great! If what you learned is that your grandpa’s stories are better than what’s on TV– that’s spectacular. Sometimes a small discovery like this is bigger than a huge statement like “love conquers all.”
How long should it be? This is a hard question to answer because everyone is writing in a different genre. But look, this unit is worth 15% of your grade– and the last big project of the semester so it should be substantial— the equivalent of a 4-5 page paper.
In other words, if you do a one page infographic, that’s fine! But you’ll need to write an artist’s statement of at least a few pages that gives that infographic some context.
In addition to creating the multimodal text, you will write an artist’s statement. How long the statement is and what is included will really depend on how long your multimodal text is. Combined the two projects have to be at least 1800 words.
STEP 1: CHOOSE A GENRE
There are a variety of options for what you might do for this assignment. We’ll look at a number of mentor texts below. Generally speaking, to pick the genre you want to compose in, you’ll want to consider your audience: what genres best reach the discourse community you want to reach? You can also use this project as an opportunity to play to your strengths. If you’re an amazing comic book artist, then a comic would be great for you. If you’ve been collecting photos of your neighborhood since fall of 2019, perhaps a photo essay will be best.
Whichever genre you choose, the audience and genre should make sense together.
Think carefully about your message, who you hope hears the message and what is the best way to present that message to that specific audience. For example, if you are trying to convince young people to get out and vote, then what genre might best read that audience? If you want to reach homebound elderly people, what genre would you choose?
Questions to consider:
- What is your message?
- Who is your audience?
- How do you want your audience to respond (do you want them to change the way they think, act, etc.)?
- What is the best way to reach your targeted audience? (A speech? A podcast? A brochure? A website? A graphic novel? A blog post? A Youtube Video? A song?)
** You must get approval from Professor Coleman for the Genre! It is highly recommended that you choose a genre that you are very familiar with and one that we have engaged with in class, if possible! ***
STEP 2: CREATE A MULTIMODAL PROJECT
More will be discussed about this throughout the unit!
You will create a multimodal project that:
Addresses ONE or BOTH of the following questions
- How has the past year challenged or changed you?
- What have you learned from the hardships of the past year that you would like to share with others?
Uses Rhetorical Appeals to Strengthen the Message
- Provide facts, statistics, and reasons to support your claim
- Appeal to the audience’s emotions
- Provide a logical and well-organized argument
(Maybe) Provides a Clear Call-to-Action for the Intended Audience
- How do you want your audience to think, act or behave after interacting with this text?
- Write a strong and persuasive call to action that leaves your audiences ready to act or change their thinking!
STEP 3: WRITE AN AUTHOR’S STATEMENT OR ARTIST’S STATEMENT
You will also create an Author’s Statement or Artist’s Statement. This will provide you with an opportunity to thoughtfully reflect on your final project and on the work you have done together in this module. In an author or artist’s statement, the author explains the decisions and choices that they made when composing the piece such as the choices behind the genre, rhetorical situation, use of rhetorical appeals, mode, and medium. The author’s statement should be at least 300 words.
In total, for this project you must write at least 1800 words. So this means, if you are creating a podcast or YouTube video or work in another similar genre, you should write a script of what you are going to say. The word count includes the introduction to the project, the multimodal project, and the artist or author’s statement.
Tips (adapted from the New York Times)
- Create from who you are and what you really care about.
Something has happened to you during this past twelve months that only you can tell. It doesn’t have to be huge (see the next tip) or tragic (although it might be). What readers are interested in– you’ll have to take my word on this– is what YOU have to offer– whether it’s your particular voice and experience, or your particular eye for research. When you care, your readers will care.
- Focus on something small to tell a larger story.
As I say above, your readers want to hear about YOU. And being invited into your life, your neighborhood, your home, can do more to tell a reader about life in 2021 than any type of generalization. Again, this doesn’t have to be a personal story if you don’t want it to be. Even if you are doing research on the protests last summer, try focusing on one particular neighborhood, one park, one precinct.
- Find a unique way to approach your topic by playing with genre, voice, tone, the use of detail and other craft tools.
Amid a pandemic that is affecting the entire world, it’s hard to come up with a topic that’s original. The good news is that you don’t have to — you just need to put your own special spin on it.
Here are some mentor texts to use as examples, models or guides:
Video essay about Toilet Paper: funny video
Photo Essays : When Life Felt Normal: Your Pre-Pandemic Moments
Podcasts: Opening the Blinds
Illustration: The Strange Lives of Objects in the Coronavirus Era
Infographic: 100 New Yorkers
The New York Times on creating a Podcast:
More resources for creating texts
- Free music: https://www.purple-planet.com/
- Free sound effects: http://soundbible.com/free-sound-effects-1.html
- Copyright safe images (photos, clip art, etc): https://search.creativecommons.org/
- Audio creator/editor: https://www.audacityteam.org/ [easy to use with a full range of tools, lots of videos about how to use it]
- Here’s a review about free audio editing software https://www.techradar.com/news/the-best- free-audio-editor
- https://www.canva.com/ is a mostly free (especially if you upload your own images) design program that does everything from posters and banners to storyboards and comic strips. A real go-to tool for a lot of people
- https://piktochart.com/ The free version has a 40MB image upload limit.
- Online comic maker: https://www.makebeliefscomix.com/
- Stock videos (and photos): https://www.pexels.com
- Illustrations you can manipulate: https://undraw.co/illustrations
- Video editor that’s free and great for beginners: https://videopad-video-editor.en.softonic.com/
- YouTube Studio will give you lots of tutorials about how to create videos.
- https://screencast-o-matic.com/ Screencast-o-matic is free if you want to do screen capture videos from your laptop. Word of warning: if you really want to do some close editing work, it will cost, but for the basics, it’s fine. You can upload the resulting video to YouTube.