from Composition Studies 38.1 (Spring 2010)

“An Inconvenient Tool” by Laurie Gries and Collin Brooke offers an excellent argument for using “slideware” (a generic term that includes tools like PowerPoint) as an inventive tool during, not after, composing. They counter the ubiquitous critiques and dismissals of PowerPoint  by making a convincing case for how slideware might be used for purposes other than the presentation of already figured out ideas. I especially appreciated their discussion of Pecha Kucha presentations–the importance of narrative, the value of working with constraints, and the elements of delivery relevant to this kind of presentation. This article helped me think through the practicality of integrating Pecha Kucha presentations into my fall digital composing class. Seems like a perfect fit for that class.

Heather Bastian’s “The Genre Effect: Exploring the Unfamiliar” is a good read for teaching genre (as we at UC do in our intermediate composition course). Bastian lays out reasons why it might make sense for teachers to introduce genre concepts by asking students to explore unfamiliar ones rather than the familiar (the latter are often so naturalized that students have a hard time identifying genre elements or particulars). She focuses students on historical and cross-cultural genre samples but notes that others could work just as well (the trick is to select materials that are less solidified in contemporary culture).

Liz Rohan, in “Everyday Curators,” introduces an assignment called the personal literacy inventory. The project asks students to look through their own or their families’ collections of stuff in order to select materials that tell some sort of literacy story. One student focused on comics he had drawn as a young boy; another on writing assignments for school…neat idea that I bet gets students thinking about the personal dimensions of literacy as a material practice.


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