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 2
RESEARCH BOX

TEACHER’S NOTES

As Cornell shows, a genre like the box can be an ideal vehicle to act as a compendium for students’ research and inquiry. And just as Duchamp thought, investigated, and planned in writing, students, too, can think of their research box as a medium to store the textual results of their own inquiry-quests. This would be an ideal assignment to do collaboratively, students working in pairs or teams, depending on the complexity or depth of the inquiry desired. The topic might either be generated from students themselves or from the instructor; it can be tied into a central course reading or can simply be a stand-alone assignment.

What will result will be a very basic Web site of student writing and inquiry: rough notes/ideas/questions/sound-bites, along with more finished student text; interesting visual or verbal or aural items found off the Internet or in print-based media (if the technology is available) and reported on and/or sampled; and a catalog of any student interviews or surveys done.

When finished, the box will be a class research-page, either exploring the general course topic or helping to illuminate the central class reading—a compendium of cool enlightenment.


ACTIVITY

So, for example, students might get together (if they have the choice) and generate a class topic like clothing, why we wear what we wear. Then, various research teams would carve out the areas they will be responsible for: teams might explore their own ideas like a brief history of fashion, issues of clothing manufacture, a certain designer, regional differences in fashion, retailing and advertising, political issues (such as sweatshops or dress codes), even theorists of fashion. Then students search, read, interview/survey, and write through their inquiry, trying to amass and arrange as much interesting “objects” (textual or otherwise) as possible.

If the instructor chooses to link the research box to the course’s central text, an equally interesting work can be done: say the students are all reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X—as they read, research teams will be finding information and collecting/writing/arranging it on topics like slavery, AfricanAmerican religion, the Northern migration, Harlem nightlife, the Nation of Islam, Malcolm’s speeches, Malcolm’s media reception, the Islamic faith, and Malcolm’s legacy today. An assignment like this (one very similar to digital storytelling) is both participatory and immersive, a good combination for education.

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