Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Multi-Modal Literacy Narrative for Writing & Rhetoric

Assignment: A typical literacy narrative examines significant events in a person's development as a literate person. It recounts one's history of reading and writing, identifies key moments, or tells stories about one's personal experience. Your narrative will do that--and more. You need to expand the definition of literacy to include the use of technology to communicate with others. We'll use the following basic definition: "21st-century literacies: reading and writing in diverse and participatory contexts, including print and screen."

All told, you should end up with a textual component around 1000-1500 words long. The multimodal element will include something beyond a plain text piece--and you have a great freedom to do so. As long as the additional elements demonstrate some aspect of 21st-century literacy, I encourage you to push the boundaries of a traditional literacy narrative.

And the finished copy:

The stories of how and when I learned how to read and write are so boring that I don't even remember them with any vivid details, I only know what my parents have told me. I remember the big moments, but unfortunately I only can recall them without the details that would have made them into a great story to tell today. I remember being tutored so that I could learn how to read, I remember sitting in my Kindergarten class, bored out of my mind while the teacher taught us how to read simple 3-letter words, and I remember writing the cursive alphabet over and over again. However, I don't remember what it felt like to look at a book full of words and be amazed that I could read them, nor do I remember what it was like to not be able to read or write. I don't believe my literacy lies in the times that I built my foundation for how to read and write, but when I found myself by gaining knowledge through reading which inevitably led to me discovering my passion about writing. There was no one time in my life or academic career that I can describe as the moment in my life when I decided then and there that I wanted to be a journalist; but rather a series of events and self-discovery that led me down the path that I am on today.

In my junior year of high school, I had a pivotal moment in my literacy, and more importantly my writing, because I was in an English class with Mr. Polster. Mr. Polster was the teacher that every freshman, sophomore, and junior prayed for when they were finally assigned their class schedules and teachers for the year in August. His clear passion about the lessons he taught were infectious, and it was next to impossible for a student to walk out of his class at the end of the year unchanged. Mr. Polster was unlike any other teacher I have ever had in my academic career because he was so clearly passionate about living life and teaching my technology obsessed generation to do the same. I can still vividly recall the times that the middle-aged man would stand in front of our class, wearing one of his signature knitted sweaters, using his hands to animate his words as he jumped around the classroom in an effort to get his point across while yelling at us, literally trying to force his message into our heads, "This is the most beautiful moment of your life!"

Every single day, Mr. Polster would sip his morning coffee out of the same coffee mug, which had a beautiful picture of mountains and the words "Boulder, Colorado" printed on it. I was so affected by him because he was the first teacher that didn't criticize my work, and he was the first teacher I was able to relate to because we both shared the same love for Boulder, good literature, and hatred for the superfluous people that the materialistic American culture continues to breed. Mr. Polster's passion for life and encouragement led me to decide that I had to be a writer, and though I had always enjoyed writing, if it weren't for his classes, I would have never had the confidence in myself to pursue a career in journalism.

Mr. Polster always dreamed of being a writer, and he was very passionate about recognizing good writing. For every writing assignment his classes completed, he would photocopy the best paper and pass it out to the class, meticulously crossing off the author's name and being careful never to mention the person's name, either. Mr. Polster would always read aloud the best paper, and midway through the year, I realized that almost every paper that was photocopied was my work. Though I had always hated the sound of my own writing, that started to change slowly as I was constantly being praised for my work. I loved seeing my classmates marvel at my papers and complain to Mr. Polster, "no sixteen-year-old can write like that." I remained anonymous for a long time, and due to my silence, they had a conspiracy theory that because nobody had taken credit for the papers, Mr. Polster had to be the real writer behind them. I finally started to gain confidence in my writing once I realized that other people thoroughly enjoyed reading my work, and I eventually confessed to my peers that I was the real author who had been writing the photocopied papers. My classmates were shocked, because being a good writer and a bookworm were aspects of myself that didn't fall in line with my athletic stereotype. Everybody congratulated me because they were so impressed with my writing, and people I had never even talked to even approached me to help them with their papers. The previous slackers in my English class took on the same style of writing that I had, and before long, they stopped coming to me for help and instead came to me with their graded papers in hand, begging me to read them, because for once, they were proud of their work. Knowing that I was not only able to produce writing that had an impact on others but also help my peers feel the same passion towards writing that I had was one of the greatest feelings. I realized I had impacted several people's lives, just by sharing my passion with them, and I realized that in a way, Mr. Polster does the same thing.

Towards the end of my junior year in high school, Mr. Polster assigned a six-week project that we had to work on both inside of class and outside of class. The assignment was to write a research paper entitled "I am Not a Philistine! and within the paper, each one of us had to write about any piece of art that had changed our lives (including, but not limited to, paintings, novels, plays, songs, and movies). I contemplated my choice of art very carefully, but ultimately wrote about the movie Fight Club. Mr. Polster had openly told me that he saw the movie and didn't like it, but was interested in seeing what I thought was so life-changing about the movie. I spent hours in my school's library researching topics like Generation X, the 1950s, nihilism, the prominence of patriarchy in religion, and the psychological impacts of a man when he was raised by a single mom, with no father figure in his life.

I have written many good papers in my life, and I have even had an article published in the popular daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer, but to this day, I have never been more proud of a piece of my own writing than I was with the finished copy of my paper. Because Mr. Polster had already told me he really didn't like Fight Club, I figured that when he started passing out the photocopies of the best paper, it wouldn't be my work. I was wrong. Mr. Polster read aloud my paper to the class, exploding with excitement over my thesis, word choices, and advanced themest hat I had included; and for the first time, I realized that writing is an art that has the power to change the world, one person at a time. It was in that moment, when I saw how my ideas had affect others so significantly, that I knew I wanted to be a writer.

When I was a child, I had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a curiosity that has never gone away. I still read everything I can get my hands on, and I have been known to read textbooks for classes I'm not even taking just because I find things interesting. As a 10-year-old, I wanted to be a writer so that I could enlighten another little girl like myself one day with a book I had written. When I was 16, I wanted to change the world by forcing people to look at things in a different way or make them question why they see things the way that they do. And as an 18-year-old college-bound student, I was one of the lucky ones who entered college with my major already declared and my life planned out ahead of me in black and white. However, without Mr. Polster, without his encouragement and passion to ignite my own faith in my writing, I would never have been on the path that I am on today, and I will never be able to thank him enough.

Final Grade: According to the rubric, it should have been an 88% because my multimodal component was a copy of my Fight Club paper, which didn't demonstrate my literacy of the 21st century, but my professor was thoroughly impressed by my papers, and said that an 88% didn't reflect my work. I ended up with a 95%. SCORE! 

1 comment:

  1. Very nice article. Can I copy it for my lit class?