Northern California Writing Project
Inquiry: Will studying and
composing multimodal texts help students create compelling
the Genre: What is a Multimodal Text?
- James Gee, What Video
Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy (2003)
- Multimodal texts mix various modes of communication (text,
image, sound) into a single document
- Each mode of communication may transmit a message independent
of the other mode(s)
- Taken together, the modes create effects on their readers that
are different than any single mode considered on its own (ch. 2, pp.
- Seven Things You
Should Know About Digital Storytelling
What are the attributes of a digital
- Speaker: Who is the
speaker? What do you know (or can you
ascertain) about her/his knowledge?
- Occasion: Why is s/he
speaking? What is the context of the
- Audience: Whom is the
speaker addressing? Do you feel that you
are a member of the audience?
- Purpose: What appears to
be the speaker's objective?
- Subject: What topic(s)
are being addressed? In what manner are
they being discussed?
- Watch the digital document, "Daddy
Duty," and discuss the SOAPS attributes with another participant.
Finding an Inquiry
- Learning outside school:
- Gee's book repeatedly investigates the ways that learning
happens in the virtual worlds of video games, and looks for ways to
connect the video game learning principles to school. For example:
- Observation: Video
games are often played in social contexts, and players' socializing
aids their learning.
Learning is facilitated when there is a social context characterized by
- Observation: The
meaning or significance of certain objects or situations in video games
changes as the game progresses, and players learn how to pay attention
to such objects based on the game's current state.
Meaningful learning occurs when the skills and knowledge being learned
appy directly to the learner's current context.
- All 36 principles Gee catalogs are available in
a truncated form here.
- "What are you learning outside
of school? What motivates you to learn it? How well are you learning
- This question was the topic for one of the students' weblog entries
early in the semester (look around January
24th or so), and attempted to help them begin thinking about how
they learn when school isn't involved. Understanding their intrinsic
learning behaviors could build bridges to the ideas in Gee's book.
- How would you respond to the question above?
Modeling and Co-Learning
- I had to learn alongside my students, since I hadn't done a lot
of multimodal composing myself.
- I gave my students access to my own starts and stops in writing
the narrative for my document by using Google Documents and sharing
access with my students.
- We played with storyboards
as a way of organizing our work.
- I brought in rough cuts of my own project as well, and shared
problems and solutions with the class regarding both technological- and
non-technological aspects of creating the multimodal document. The
students saw the "final" version emerge as their own work was shaping
- In their weblogs
(look for dates in late February and early March), students recorded
some of their attitudes toward the project as it was nearing completion.
Student Work and Reflections
projects encompassed a wide array of learning situations: from
cooking to hunting, money management to kayaking, drink mixing to
- Student reflections at the completion of the project are found,
again, in their weblogs
(most posted these around March 8th). I asked them to "anti-reify" the
projects--to show me the work that went into the actual production of
their final projects.
Evaluation and Assessment
- As a class, we brainstormed the
attributes we expected to find within the final projects, and collaboratively
developed a rubric for evaluation together.
- While I filled out a rubric for
each project, I also recorded voice comments for
students. It seemed fitting that their multimodal documents have