Writing New Media: Theory and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition

By Anne Frances Wysocki; Johndan Johnson-Eilola et al. | Go to book overview

ACTIVITY 1
MATERIALITIES OF SEEING

TEACHER NOTES

GOALS

Because using our eyes is just something we do, seeing can seem a natural thing, unmediated by other practices. It is not. We learn what is worth seeing and what to pay attention to and not, and there is much our eyes do not take in. The purpose of the exercises here is to help us see how seeing is not immediate and depends very much on the larger contexts in which we live; this is a way of becoming alert to the material results of our perceptual practices.


TIME

The activities listed below are fairly short and discrete; they require 15-30 minutes of discussion (after a bit of homework or some other kind of classroom event). These activities can be woven into longer assignments that include readings about sight (see the list of print resources in the back of this book for such readings) and/or the production of research projects on how sight and literacy entwine (for example), but these assignments can also be used as quick and discrete activities to vary a class routine and raise questions that help give broader contexts to the day-to-day work of a writing class.


LEVEL

These various activities work well at all levels because they ask us to consider aspects of seeing and working in the world that we most often don’t consider.


EXERCISES

EYE-WITNESSING

This is a quick and usually entertaining—but highly instructive—activity. Arrange ahead of time for someone to interrupt your class in an unexpected way: have someone run in to shout a question (“Where’s Kim? Have you seen Kim?”) and then run out quickly, or have someone run in and up to a window to shout at someone outside and then just as quickly leave. While this is happening, you as teacher look a little non-plussed, but do not get involved: let the interruption pass and go back to what you were doing before. After 10-15 minutes, ask the class what they saw during the interruption. Ask them to describe what happened, and ask them to describe exactly the people who were involved.

The range of responses will most likely be surprising. When I have done this in class, people will disagree over the gender, age, and race of the interrupters, and over who said what—and can be very insistent on holding to what they saw even though there are such wide differences.

-24-

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