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Favorite Composition Assignments
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Favorite Assignment: Visual Text


In my first semester composition and rhetoric course, I lead students to explore literacy, beginning with the processes of learning a language (spoken and written, in particular the English language) and culminating with a learning portfolio that reflects on the meaning of literacy to them as individuals. We look at the rhetoric associated with specific types of texts, such as visual, oral, written, and multi-modal, and we practice composing varied types of texts. 


In my first assignment of the course, I challenge students to create a visual text that portrays both what kind of communicator they are and what influences growing up affected their development  as communicators. Students must present their visual texts to a four or five-person work group without speaking or explaining any of the images. Instead of talking about their own presentation, they only talk about what they understand of their peers' presentations. After the visual texts have been "translated" by their peer audiences, students are allowed to clarify or seek clarification through oral communication, talking through the things they did and didn't understand about each others' presentations.


I follow this assignment with their first written essay, a reflection on their experiences of this process. 


The visual text is my favorite assignment because it lays the groundwork for discussions about the rhetorical process, illustrating the importance of planning specific messages for specific audiences within specific contexts. My students respond well to the assignment, often using it as a reference point throughout the course. 


I look forward to learning from all of you!


I love that you start right off with a multimodal assignment and follow it with a written reflection. I think as instructors, we often tend to start with the writing assignment and then add the multimodal piece. This makes me think about restructuring some of my assignments. Thanks for the ideas!