Defamiliarized Keyboards and Embodied Writing

Falling down in QWOP

This assignment is geared toward getting students to begin thinking, talking, and writing about how writing is a deeply embodied practice.  I ask students to play two games (QWOP and GIRP) that reconfigure how we engage the keyboard as a material object. 

Setting Up a Studio Environment for Multimedia Projects

Get Excited and Make Things

Whenever I teach, I always assign some form of multimedia project, and these practices have helped to set up a studio environment where collaborative multimedia projects can thrive. Rather than post an explicit lesson plan to our site, I thought I’d run through a set of practices that have been successful for me ov

Using Music Videos to Explore Historiography

Members of the band 'N Sync hang from strings in a still from the "Bye Bye Bye" music video.

This assignment encourges students to think about how they can read and piece together primary sources to create a descriptive narrative.

Analyzing Ethos Using Twitter and Storify

Using the multimedia curation program, Storify, students compose a short writing assignment analyzing an "author's" ethos based on his or her Twitter feed.

Using the multimedia curation program, Storify, students compose a short writing assignment analyzing an "author's" ethos based on his or her Twitter feed.  This demonstrates the ways in which ethos is cultivated over time and in a variety of different ways.

Teaching Audience and Stakes With the Colbert Report

This exercise asks students to work in groups to move past a working summary of a text's rhetoric to consider the goals of an author and their strategic approach to audiences. It uses PBworks' collaborative potentials to bridge the gap between two connected class discussions.

Agonistic Debate on a Course Blog

Students break up into two groups to engage in agonistic debate regarding an issue in an assigned reading in the course.

Using Juxta to Compare Editions

Manuscript Revision

This lesson plan prompts students to use Juxta (collation software) to compare different witnesses or instances of a text.  Students compare multiple versions of a literary work, locating revisions in order to discuss word choice and textual instabilities.  Most useful for literary works with full-text editions available online. 

Using Facebook to Review Local & Global Argument Types & Rhetorical Appeals

facebook logo

In this lesson students review the basics of argument types & rhetorical appeals.  Working in groups, they look for examples of several argument types in facebook status updates.  As a class we review the examples, evaluate their classifications, and discuss the rhetorical appeals at play.  

Comparing Summaries on a Class Wiki

Screenshot of class wiki page with comments

This lesson asks students to individually summarize a short opinion article, then post their summaries as comments on a class wiki page. The lesson can be expanded with class discussion about the strengths of students' summaries, as well as the similarities and differences.

Teaching Ethos Using Online Dating Profiles

Students analyze portions of profiles excerpted from online dating sites to discuss ethos

Students analyze portions of profiles excerpted from the free online dating site, OkCupid, in order to talk about ethos, values, ideology and goodwill.  The exercise, in turn, encourages students to consider their own online presences, their values, and the ways in which rhetoric has “real world” applications.

Analyzing Visual Arguments

A doctor's body inside large, bleeding ears with large money bags against a blood-red backdrop seen behind the mirror images of the enlarged close up of a man's ears.

Students practice closely describing and analyzing an image for its argument and rhetorical impact.

Pre-Writing: Surveying Expectations on the First Day of Class

The Writing Process Diagram with arrows showing the interrelationships between prewriting, writing, and revising.

On the first day of class, students think about the course topic and document their personal definitions of and understandings of the topic.

Introducing iMovie

Film reels

This activity introduces students to iMovie software and reveals the range of rhetorical possibilities and effects that the program provides.

Rebuttal Sparring

image of two people fencing

Students pair up to practice rebuttal. Partners present their position on their chosen controversy and have to fend off arguments for other positions that their partner comes up with. Partners change frequently and in quick succession.

Creating OED Word Constellations

Magnifying Glass

In this assignment students use the Oxford English Dictionary to make individual mindmaps of the multiple definitions of related words, then the class together creates a constellation of meanings surrounding a seemingly simple topic that becomes more and more complex. 

Collaborative Web Page Annotations With Diigo

Screenshot of Diigo sidebar listing comments & annotations along side webpage with highlighted text

This lesson introduces students to a collaborative annotation tool to facilitate class discussions and to encourage active reading and research practices.

Generating Consensus on Textual Interpretation Through Circulating Critique

worksheet showing two rounds of exercise

This exercise has groups of three students answer questions about an assigned reading; read and revise other groups' answers; consider other groups' revisions of their first answer; and revise their first answer--all in preparation for class discussion.

Blogging Research from the Oxford English Dictionary

A picture of an open dictionary page with eyeglasses on top.

In two short blog posts, I asked students to choose an interesting or perplexing word to look up in the books we'd just finished reading. After conducting their research, students blogged about their findings and made a quick effort at applying their research to a passage. 

Creating Visual Models of Rhetorical Concepts with Adobe Illustrator

I’ve often found that writing about rhetorical concepts and theories only takes students so far. This assignment allows students to create concrete visual representations of concepts and theories in order to approach and think through them in a different manner.

Using Storify to Analyze Poetry

Screenshot of Storify page, with YouTube video of "The Second Coming"

Students often conceptualize poems as monolithic objects from the past.  This lesson plan helps encourage them to visualize and conceptualize the content and influence of a poem in different registers.

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