Unit One Project: Multimodal Composition

Due: February 24th

Peer Review: February 20th

In Radioactive, Lauren Redniss emphasizes Marie Curie’s complex legacy. The trailblazing scientist became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and she made important developments like the X-Ray possible. At the same time, her work facilitated the atomic bomb and dangerous nuclear energy.

Radioactive is not a children’s book, but if it were, we have to wonder which parts of this narrative Redniss would choose to include and exclude. Do children deserve early exposure to complicated and troublesome legacies (can they even understand them yet?), or should they receive a simplified version of history in order to learn important values? Your task in this project is to make that difficult decision by choosing an historical figure to represent to an audience of child readers. Your multimodal composition will be a children’s book that combines multiple forms of communication to represent a particular narrative to your audience.

In creating your children’s book, you will need to think critically about why you’ve chosen the individual you have: what does he/she have to teach children? Why is this figure significant to you and your audience? What elements of the individual’s story will you choose to share and why? Your answers to these questions will become the main claim of your project; you are implicitly arguing that this person’s story is worth being told in a particular way.

Goals: This assignment continues our focus on audience by considering how different media and modes of communication appeal to a specific audience. It also asks you to develop communication, critical thinking, and research skills as you decide how best to narrate your subject’s life or a scene from his/her life.

Selecting a Subject: You have a lot of flexibility in the historical figure you select for this project; the only real requirements are that the figure be a real person and that he or she hold significance for a community of people. The most successful projects will also focus on a subject with a complex background. Historical figures often made enormous contributions to progress and change while still erring in their commitment to troubling institutions and philosophies. Many Founding Fathers, for example, developed American democracy while relying on slave labor, helping to displace native populations, or refusing suffrage to women and the poor. How do we account for both these legacies at once? Can we? What is the value of sharing this complex history with a much younger audience?

Format: Your book can take a number of visual and narrative forms. You can choose to narrate the entirety of your subject’s life, to focus on a brief episode, or—like Redniss—to consider the later implications of your subject’s work. In building this project, you can choose to create a more traditional, hard copy text for submission or to develop a more interactive, electronic version. In either case, you must use at least two modes of communication (text and visual elements), although you may also choose to include audio or other medium. You should incorporate research from at least 3 sources in addition to any visual or audio material you collect. At least one source must come from a library database or catalog. Because your subject is a real person, you cannot make up or change facts, although you can be selective about what you choose to include. You must cite all sources, including the sources from which you pull any audio or visual material.

Your contribution should also be accompanied by a 500-600 word (approximately 2 double-spaced pages) “author memo” that reflects on the decisions you made in compiling your book. Why did you choose the subject you did? What did you include in your story and what did you leave out? Why? How did the multimodal elements of your project aid you in telling the story you selected? Make sure to describe how peer review aided you in developing your final product.

Grading Criteria

The project is worth 150 points total (or 15 points of your final grade). Here’s the breakdown:

Process (50 points)

Student submits prep work (project pitch, research assessment, and narrative draft) (20 points)

Student participates actively and generously in peer review (15 points)

Student incorporates peer review recommendations into final product (15 points)

Multimodal Content (50 points)  

  A B C D F

And Narrative

(20 points)

Student chooses a subject with a complex historical legacy and addresses that legacy through creative narrative strategies Student chooses a subject with a complex historical legacy and makes clear decisions about what events to narrate Student chooses a specific historical figure and narrates the basic details of that figure’s life Student chooses a figure who may not be historically relevant or does not tell a focused narrative about that subject Student does not focus on a specific figure
Multimodality, genre, and audience

(20 points)

Student’s multimodal work reflects sustained effort and critical thought about the relationship between text and audiovisual materials and the relationship between form and audience Student is creative about his/her use of multimodal elements. He/she also experiments with tone, chronology, and message to best reach a younger audience Student makes clear decisions about what multimodal elements to use in his/her project and builds a serviceable children’s book Student attempts to use more than one mode of communication but may select images or audio haphazardly or does not adhere to the conventions of a children’s book Student work features no multimodal components

(10 points)

Student in-text and reference citations are virtually flawless (1-2 minor errors). Student cites BOTH textual and visual materials Student effectively cites in the text and in a reference page with only minor errors. Student attempts to cite in a consistent format but may demonstrate multiple errors, or only cites textual research Student attempts to cite but demonstrates no awareness of MLA or APA formatting Student does not cite; plagiarism suspected

Student Reflection (50 points)

9-10 (A) 8 (B) 7 (C) 6 (D) 0-5 (F)

(10 pts.)

Student’s thesis reflects sustained and critical thought about the project’s subject and larger issues of historical legacy Student’s thesis makes clear the significance of his/her historical figure and the subject’s legacy Student offers a basic thesis about his/her historical figure Student offers a thesis unrelated to questions of historical significance and legacy There is no thesis (or the reflection is under 500 words)
Narrative Stakes Student offers a sophisticated discussion of complex narrative decisions Student emphasizes challenging and controversial decisions about what to include Student’s discussion of narrative makes clear that he/she made decisions about what to include Student points to narrative decisions but does not discuss their implications Student does not discuss narrative stakes (or the reflection is under 500 words)
Genre and audience Student discusses genre and multimodality to make a sophisticated argument about tailoring for an audience Student demonstrates awareness of the relationship between genre, audience, and his/her narrative and multimodal decisions Student gestures toward new knowledge about genre, audience, and multimodality Student references genre and audience but does not explain their import Student does not discuss genre or audience (or the reflection is under 500 words)
Organization Student uses an organizational approach that allows him/her to develop advanced critical thinking and features strong transitions Student attempts paragraphs, an outline, and transitional phrases that develop her ideas—some minor errors Student relies on the “five paragraph model” without developing his/her own thinking or lacks clear transitions between paragraphs Student’s paragraphs do not focus on a single idea or transition suddenly Student does not divide the paper into paragraphs

(or the reflection is under 500 words)

Mechanics and Formatting Student’s language is enjoyable to read with few to no errors; paper is double spaced with MLA heading information and a title Student formats effectively with limited grammatical errors (or demonstrates a specific area for improvement) Student demonstrates 1 formatting error and/or some grammatical errors Student demonstrates 2-3 major formatting errors OR multiple grammatical errors Student has multiple grammatical errors; there are no page numbers, title, or double spacing




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