“The Boat”: Understanding Multimodality (prompt 2)


Assignment Title: “The Boat”: Understanding Multimodality

Author: JBR

Class Info/Tags: FYC, Digital Rhetoric, Hybrid Course

Context of Use: I use this classroom activity/discussion board in both synchronous, in-person courses in a computer lab and asynchronous, remote courses as a discussion board to introduce students to the concept of multimodality and the ways in which modalities can change our reading experience. 

Complimentary materials: PDF of “The Boat” text

“The Boat”: Understanding Multimodality

Step 1: Open up the attachment, entitled “The Boat”. Read through this text. 

Step 2: Once you have read the attachment, post your initial reply to this discussion where you answer the following questions in about 200 words: What is the text about? Try to summarize it. What do you picture as you read the text? What questions/concerns do you have after reading the text? Post a response below before moving on.  

————————————–Make sure Steps 1-2 are Complete—————————— 

Step 3: Make sure your computer’s sound is on. Open this link and make the window full screen: http://www.sbs.com.au/theboat/

Step 4: Read through this version of the story till you get to the same place as the attachment. 

Step 5: Once you have read through the online version, reply to your initial post and answer the following questions in about 150 words: Did your understanding of the text change from one version to another? What changed and why? How was the first version different from the online version? Which one was better, in your opinion? Why? 

Responses Due: Now that you have reflected on the multimodal nature of the online graphic novel, comment on 2 of your peers’ posts and engage with their understandings. These responses should be about 100 words each. 
  • What does it look like for students to successfully engage with this? Students usually really enjoy this activity and the difference between the traditional text version and the dynamic nature of the graphic novel. Successful student engagement usually comes in the reflection afterward and the discussion regarding how different aspects of multimodality (aural, linguistic, visual, gestural, spatial) add and detract from the reader’s experience. 
  • What should people consider in adapting this? I’ve used this activity in a number of different classroom contexts; as I mention, it works well in-person (with computers) and it works well as an asynchronous activity. The key is connecting this to other work around multimodality. For my class, students are asked to produce a blog with multimodal elements afterward. 

About Author

Jennifer Burke Reifman

Jennifer Burke Reifman is a 5th year Education Ph.D. Candidate at U.C. Davis with an emphasis in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies. Her research focuses on technology in the writing classroom, writing program administration, and student identity and agency. When she isn't being a graduate student and writing teacher, she spends most of her time playing with her 3-year old son, tending her backyard garden, or diving into a video game.