Now that you’ve completed your Literacy Narrative Comic, publish a reflective blog post of about 500 words about the writing process, paying special attention to how the work you have done has helped you to meet the Learning Outcomes for this class. That post should link to the page with your literacy comic.
Some other questions you might respond to: How was it different to write your literacy narrative as a comic? How did you think differently once the visual component was added? How did that help you to see the story you were trying to tell in different terms? Was your analytical thinking process any different? How have your thoughts about your alphabetic literacy narrative changed in the process of transforming it into a comic?
I’d also like you to discuss choices you made in creating your comic and to explain why you chose the way you did. Especially if there’s something you were really trying to do in your comic which you felt you couldn’t realize as perfectly as you would if you had a lot more time, more resources, or if you could have hired an illustrator to turn your vision into exactly what you wanted. If there are aspects of your comic where you have a clear sense of what you were trying to accomplish and how you would have done so if some things were different, then explain that in your reflection. Doing so allows you to demonstrate that you have the knowledge you need about this sort of writing even if you have not yet developed all the skills necessary to make that knowledge visible in the final artifact you’ve produced
Once you have completed your Tracing project and published the pages to your site, you need to publish a reflection post as well. The post serves to turn the project in when it syndicates to the class site, and is also an opportunity for you to explain your process in the work you just completed.
Your reflection post should link to the main page for your project and also to the assignment prompt. Tell us in the post what the thesis of your essay is and give a one or two sentence preview of your argument.
You should also address the following questions:
Before writing your essay, you went through a pretty involved process of tracing and annotating two pages from the books. Briefly explain what that process was like for you — probably this was very different from most other writing you’ve done, so try to explain what was useful about the process for you. What productive thoughts or analysis occurred through the act of tracing and annotating?
For this assignment, I asked you to be very conscious of writing an inductive essay with your thesis at the end, which is probably a pretty foreign way to structure an essay for you. How did your writing process change to address this assignment?
This assignment is a close reading exercise focused on identifying aspects of the “secret language of comics,” the series of choices the authors make in crafting comics that probably pass by many readers with little or no conscious notice. Do you feel that this assignment helped you to get in on this secret language? Do you understand Stitches and Spinning better after having written this project? What’s the single biggest insight you gained about the two books during the process of tracing, annotating, and analyzing these pages (maybe something you “knew” on some level before you started but that you really get now, or maybe something you hadn’t really noticed until you worked on the project)?
Once you have published your literacy narrativeas a page on your site, you’ll need to also publish a post about the narrative that links to the page. That post serves three fundamental functions:
it provides a compelling preview of your narrative that summarizes your controlling idea in a sentence or two;
it reflects on what you have learned in the process of writing your technology literacy narrative;
when your post syndicates to the class site, that constitutes turning in your narrative.
Some questions to consider in your reflection:
What was your writing process for this narrative like? Did it feel strange for you to do the freewriting exercises first? How did the freewriting influence the essay you eventually wrote?
What did you learn about yourself by the end of writing your narrative? Was there anything that you found surprising, or something about yourself that you came to view differently in the process of writing this essay?
What sentence from your essay do you think someone else reading it would identify as the most interesting sentence?
Uploading and publishing to your new WordPress site
Visual images as representations of complex conceptual topics
Once you’ve created your web site, you need an image to represent yourself and/or your site for the class: an avatar. Your avatar can be whatever you want it be but try to create something that both reflects your personality and speaks to the topic for this class in some way.
Crop and otherwise edit the photo(s) in a photo editing application (like Photoshop or PicMonkey or Pixlr). You can create a layered or collage effect, if you’d like. Add your name on your badge in such a way that it’s legible — it can be your full name, just your first name, or the nickname you want to be called this semester.
Your final badge should be square and at least 512 pixels wide and high. Please make certain your badge is square so that it will fit into the design on the student sites page.
When you’re done, you’ll need to put the image two places, with an optional third:
Load the badge into your Media Library and publish it to your site in a blog post. (If adding it as a feature image means that the entire square image won’t display, then also insert the image into the post itself.)
Include information and links in the post about the source(s) for images included in your badge.
Write a paragraph or two about why you chose those images, what aspects of yourself and your interests are represented in your badge, and/or what difficulties you faced in creating the badge.
Please tag your post with the tag “sk1,” plus with any additional tags that you think are appropriate.
Go into your dashboard to Appearance > Customize > Site Identity. Load the image as your site icon.
If you do not already have a gravatar, create a gravatar account and load your avatar there. From then on, your avatar will show up as your picture when you leave comments here and on other students’ sites.
Christoph Niemann is an illustrator, artist, and author whose work regularly appears in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and elsewhere. He’s got a mixed media series that he calls “Sunday Sketches,” in which he takes some object from his surroundings and creates a sketch on the page around it. Some of the best such works he’s included in his book entitled Sunday Sketching.
Some examples from Niemann’s Tumblr:
You can see that each of these pieces is an actual three-dimensional tangible object placed into a drawing on paper to transform that object into something new. Niemann then photographs the resulting sketch to create a two-dimensional artifact.
For your third sketch assignment, I want you to create your own Sunday sketch in a similar style.
Take a picture of your sketch and publish it as a post.
Give your post a funny or witty title.
Write a paragraph or two in which you explain the process whereby you came up with the idea for your Sunday sketch and the choices you made in realizing that idea as an actual sketch.
Include a link back to this prompt and tag it “sk2”
For your sketch assignment this week, I want you to create a set of visual notes for one day in one class (other than this one) that you are currently enrolled in. You do not need to take your visual notes in real time; in fact, I recommend that you don’t. I recommend that you go to your classes and take notes in whatever manner you normally do, then after class go through your notes and recreate them as visual notes.
I’m a big fan of the work of Giulia Forsyth. She works in a teaching and learning center, where she helps professors and instructors be more innovative in their teaching practices, and she also works as a visual note-taker and facilitator, which means that she is sometimes employed to go to presentations and meetings and to doodle notes for the meeting.
Check out the four minute video below, where she gives a quick summary of how she began to take her doodling seriously and where it has led her.
On her Visual Practice page, Forsyth has lots of videos and images explaining how she approaches the task of producing drawings that help her and others to not just grab the information that’s been presented in a class or discussion, but to grapple with the material and better understand it. You can also see numerous examples on her Flickr page, especially her Visual Practice album.
As another example of visual note-taking, you might check out the video below from RSA Animates illustrating a lecture by Kenneth Robinson about educational philosophy. I suspect you’ll find the video much more powerful and engaging because of the illustration that goes along with it than you would if you were simply listening to the audio. What does this mean for your own practice?
For your sketch assignment this week, I want you to create a set of visual notes for one day in one class that you are currently enrolled in (probably not this one). You do not need to take your visual notes in real time; in fact, I recommend that you don’t. I recommend that you go to your classes and take notes in whatever manner you normally do, then after class go through your notes and recreate them as visual notes.
You do not need to draw your notes in a digital environment, either, though you are certainly free to do so. If you prefer to doodle with pen, pencil, or marker on paper then do that and once you’re done with your drawing, just scan the pages as JPG files so you can upload them to your site. If you have an iPad or other tablet or would like to draw on your laptop or desktop, then you might try apps like GoodNotes, Procreate, Inkflow, or Adobe’s Sketchbook or search for other free/cheap drawing applications. I am completely tool agnostic on this assignment, so make your drawings in whatever manner make sense to you.
Your visual notes do not need to be polished or beautiful or anywhere near as intricate as Forsyth’s. Do try to take this assignment as an opportunity to really engage differently with your material – don’t just make a series of doodles that follow the outline of the lecture or discussion in your notes but try to translate the concepts and information into a new, visual set of notes. You might think about creating flowcharts or diagrams, which are also visual devices.
Once you’ve got your notes, load them onto your course site as a sketch post. Embed the images from your notes into the post and as you do, take a few moments to reflect on the process and then write a paragraph or two about what you learned during the process of creating your visual notes. Did it help you to understand the course content any differently or better to create notes visually rather than just as text? Did you discover anything new about yourself or the way you think in the process? Did you find it enjoyable or find some aspect of it particularly interesting? Someplace in your reflective text, create a link back to this blog post assignment.
Stephen Mcmennamy is an Atlanta artist and Creative Director at the advertising firm BBDO. He first came to my attention when I saw his series of “combophotos” that splice together two different images to form a surreal new creation.
Here are a few examples from him:
cauliflower + poodle
paintbrush + spaghetti
bridge + guitar
Take a few moments to look through the images he’s posted on his site linked above or on his Tumblr or his Instagram. Then create your own square combophoto and publish it to your site. You can take your own photos, but probably you’ll want to use CC_licensed images you find on Flickr — make sure you give credit to the originals that you modify to create your combophoto.
The level of technical aptitude for this assignment is actually relatively small, just simple cropping and resizing. The greater part of the challenge is thinking creatively and finding images that you can work with. That said, note that Mcmennamy comes up with ideas and then specifically stages photos to combine, and he seems to often spend significant amounts of time shooting and selecting his images. You won’t have lots of time, models you can hire, or expensive photo equipment to work with, so I don’t necessarily expect your final images to be as polished and perfectly aligned as his are. More important is for you to be playful and come up with images that combine to create something funny or witty or striking.
To edit the two photos together, you can use whatever photo editing software you’d like. Pixlr is a good free web app, as is PicMonkey. Adobe Photoshop is also available for you to use on the computers in the Media Library on the 4th floor of the Woodruff Library.
Once you have your image, publish it in a post on your class site. Don’t forget to give it a funny or witty title! Tag your post “sk4“
Write a paragraph about how you went about choosing the two images you combined and why. What challenges did you face as you created your combophoto? What do you think your final image conveys?
In How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden carry out an extended discussion of comics through repeated analysis of the single Nancy strip by Ernie Bushmiller from August 8, 1959 (at the top of this post). They explain that “one of the least tangible yet most significant implements in the cartoonist’s toolbox is the varied use of rhythms.[…] One repetition makes a pair. But add another and the repetitions have become a series, the basic building block of all rhythm. A set of three has the smallest number of elements that can establish a pattern (as well as violate it). Three implies more to come” (134).
For this week’s sketch assignment, create your own triptych comic. As you compose your triptych, I most want you to focus on creating a story with a very clear beginning, middle, and end. Your story can be minimalist, impressionistic, comic, dark, weird or whatever you want it to be — but make sure that each panel of the triptych moves that story forward from beginning to middle to end.
You can draw your triptych, or create one using photographs, maybe along similar lines as the webcomic A Softer World, which ran weekly for about twelve years starting in Feb 2003. Emily and Joey published 1248 comics in that time, each consisting of three panels with photographs and words superimposed on them – often it seems to be a single image cropped into three panels, but sometimes it’s three photos taken as a series – and then the title of the comic appears when you hover your mouse over the comic (creating space for a sort of fourth panel or commentary). The comics tend to be quite dark.
I’m looking for compact and playful storytelling through both images and words. It’s an opportunity for you to play with irony, humor, and/or wit.
Add a paragraph reflecting on your triptych comic. What choices did you make in crafting your narrative? Describe the composition process a little bit. What was challenging about this assignment? How is crafting this sort of comic strip different or similar to other writing you’ve done this semester?
Find a relatively large empty space. Take your backpack, messenger bag, or whatever sort of bag you carry around with you regularly, empty all the contents out, and arrange them carefully so that they represent a visual snapshot of the stuff you tote around with you on a normal day. Then take a clear photo showing your bag and the stuff and upload it to your site.
Note that like the avatar or the literacy narrative, this too is a type of autobiographical composition. If you have something in your bag that is private, embarrassing, or for some other reason you don’t want it in the picture then make the editorial decision not to include it. Or vice versa: if you would like to assume a certain kind of persona then you might consider including items in your catalog that might be less than fully true.
Add some text to your post listing the items represented in your photo, preferably adding in a bit of explanatory and/or funny commentary along the way. This can be a paragraph of text or a list or whatever format seems most appropriate for you. When these sorts of posts are done by publications, like say The Verge or Timbuk2, they are often not so subtle efforts at product placement but for our purposes there is no reason for you to engage in such advertising games.
Along with the photo and your description of the items, include a paragraph reflecting on what it was like to craft a self-portrait through this photograph. How actually representative is this image of you as a person? What sorts of choices did you make in order to create the image? What was challenging about this assignment? Is representing yourself in a catalog of the stuff in your bag a type of writing? Why or why not?
In the week or two leading up to this assignment, be on the lookout for a moment that is worth representing in a comic — watch for some sort of small adventure you might take, or a conversation you are part of, or a conversation you hear, and as you come upon them take notes for yourself and maybe make quick little sketches or take photos to capture images for later. Your story does not need to be momentous. You do not need to be able to fully grasp its significance, such as it is. But watch for a story that seems to be a little window into some sort of meaning or that might show something interesting to readers.
Then create a short comic that portrays that moment as truthfully as you can in a way that combines both words and images.
If you’d like, you can make a comic with words to only a few images. Or you can make a comic with only a few words. You can use photographs or draw something or create some other sort of visuals. You can tell a funny story or a sad one, or draw on other emotions.
The only two firm requirements are that your comic needs to have words and images and it needs to show something true … with the full understanding that “truth” is a complicated and contested state of being. (Your story does not have to be a true war story; it only needs to be true.)
That said, I’d like you to try to make your comic in 5 panels. Take a sheet of 11×17 drawing paper if you have it (you can do this with 8.5×11 instead, simply adjusting the measurements that follow) and fold it in half along the longest side so you have a folder page that is now 8.5×11. Fold it again along the longest side, so you’ll have a booklet that is 8.5×5.5. Then fold it again in the same manner two more times.
Think of the front cover of that tiny booklet as your first panel and draw the initial image and words for your story. You don’t have a lot of room to hook your reader, and you have to compel her to unfold to section 2. So make it good.
Then open that booklet and draw the second panel on that space that is twice the size. You’ve got a little more space — use it wisely. Fold it open again and draw the third panel on the space that is doubled again. Write something that earns the space. Give the reader enough they they want to flip to the next part. And again for the fourth panel. You should try to not only use the space, but to also ramp up the excitement in each section. And then again, as the fifth and final panel now takes up one side of an entire page. The largest section should contain not only the largest number of words, but also the most exciting content.
Once your comic is completed, publish it to your site as a post. If you follow the method above to create a five-panel comic, scan each panel and upload it as a series. Feel free to include some pictures of your entire book too.
Write a brief reflection about your writing process for this post. How did you know when you had found the right story for your comic? How difficult was it to tell a true story in a brief comic? What were the most important choices you made along the way of creating your comic?