Reading Across Platforms

Reading Across Platforms is an outline of an assignment sequence designed for students in courses that require multimodal writing and reading. Since rhetorical situation determines the skills required for effective reading and writing, I contend students need to be taught how to read across platforms. Thorough knowledge of platform features enables responsive reading/writing. Along with teaching tool features, the activity helps students reflect on the choices they make when reading and writing in different platforms. The activity is less interested in championing one tool over another (i.e. audio over database), as it in fitting students with a range of skills they can use to respond to the requirements of the rhetorical situations in which they find themselves.

List of Classroom Activities

In the document embedded below, you will find a list of activities that can be adapted and run in composition and literature courses at most undergraduate levels. The activities emphasize one or more of the following skills: collaboration; leadership; audience awareness; revision; synthesis; retention; and judgement. I assembled the list from the following texts: On Course: A Week By Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching; Literary Learning; and Mad at School: Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life.

The Weather on FaceBook

Draft of sustainable assignment for Piedmont Project

Outcome Goals:

Frame research questions and circumvent a digital data set

Develop best practices for comparative analysis of visual and verbal digital texts

Represent findings in multiple modes: argument driven analysis essay & visually as maps or infografics


Work as citizen scientists assess warming or environmental change and its effects over time via a social media database


The idea for the assignment grew out of a conversation I had with colleagues about decorum and social media, where I joked, “If I you can’t say something nice on Facebook, just post about the weather.” It made me wonder how many users did just that—talked about the weather (regardless of motivation). My Facebook feed this winter kept me apprised of the record snow fall in Boston; the relentless cold in MI; and the terrifying drought on the West Coast. That night I flipped through pics of my friends and family at ski resorts over the last 5 or so years, and given clear direction and outcome goals, I bet I could use that data effectively. I wonder if my students could, with clear perimeters that we all work to generate together, also cull together and represent similar findings. One of the toughest problems with climate shift, species depletion, pollution, etc. is representing the scale and rate of change. Effective data collection and representation requires a huge effort on the part of citizen scientists, which is why this project (might) work in a first year writing course that emphasizes the enduring importance of the amateur in American natural history/environmentalism.


This is all in the draft stage, so I’m really grateful for the opportunity to develop the project through Piedmont.


Looking forward to meeting you!





Assessing Visual Rhetoric

The slides that follow guide students through an assessment of visual rhetoric, layout, and design. The activity is broken down into the following stages: outcome goals; suggested readings; collaborative criteria generation; small and full class exploration and analysis; possible add-ons; and visual models.

PowerPoint to iMovie

Below you will find a series of short tutorials followed by a hand out that takes you from a PowerPoint slide show to an embedded movie, with narration on a static page of your site.

The following videos walk users through 1. exporting PowerPoint presentations to iMovie, setting slide times, and fitting slides to frame; 2. recording audio to slide show you exported to iMovie; & 3. Upload imovie to YouTube & then share to web page

Part One: Exporting PowerPoint Slideshow to iMovie, setting slide time, & fitting slides to frame

Open-up  your presentation in PowerPoint; go to file; go to “save as”; save the file on your desktop; and format the show as “png”

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After the file has been formatted, minimize PowerPoint; open iMovie; and import the file by clicking on the camera icon at the right of the screen; and then drag and drop the PNG file from your desktop to iMovie

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Select all the slides by hitting command A;  drag and drop the project to the library in the upper left hand corner.

To make every slide 20 seconds, hit command A again (this time in library); hover over a slide; click on gear icon that appears; choose “clip adjustments”; set the timer to 20 seconds. To adjust clip to frame, hover, click on gear, choose “clip adjustments”; choose “cropping/Ken Burns rotation”; and then click on “fit” on right side. Slides will all expand/reduce to fit frame.

To record audio: (may have to enable microphone in “preferences”); click on microphone; click on very begining of slide to record; hit space bar to stop recording; when finished recording, hover over a slide, click on gear, click on “add adjustment” to line up slides with audio.

Upload to YouTube: (create a YouTube account if you don’t have one); go to file; click on “share” and then YouTube; and once uploaded to YouTube, hit share, copy and paste into static web page. Once you “update” will automatically populate in WordPress page.


“Twenty Fourteen”  was cited as an example of a successful website during Domain 101 introductory activities. Since Twenty Fourteen is also the current WP default theme, let’s install that theme and test its usability.

To begin to install or change a theme, go to your dashboard and hover over “Appearance” and the slide over to “Themes,” as shown below:

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Once in “Themes,” click on “Add New,” or if you know the title, use the search window:

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The “Add New” page gives you a choice among “Featured, Popular, and Latest” themes. If working through this process with students, you may want to talk about ways trends shape shape content and use. May also want to talk about the every changing nature of web writing and best practices for staying adaptive.

NOTE: all themes allow users to preview them before installation:

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To instal, click on “Install”

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When you view your new pages in the new theme, don’t panic. You’ll have to customize the new theme.

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For example, for the new theme to recognize the menus you’ve already configured, you’ll need to drag your cursor to “Appearance,” and then over to “Menus.” Scroll down and check the box next to “Top primary menu” and save changes.

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OR, you can configure the top menu from “Customize.” Drag cursor to “Appearance” and the over to “Customize.” Under “Navigation” you’ll find two drop down menus that will allow you to assign a “Top primary menu” and a “Secondary menu in the sidebar.”

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Once you’ve adjusted the menu’s to your specifications, you can add and organize pages; begin building your media library; and publishing blog posts.

Remember that no matter what theme you choose, administering menus, pages, posts, etc. will always remain the same in the WP dashboard. See the tutorial video for reassigning a post page to a static page, and check back for more in-depth WP and RH theme, app, and design tutorials.



Translation Project

What can/should your translation project look like on your site’s static page? What’s the best way to deliver the information to your readers? ((In-class activity for Bellee Jones ENG 205 course. Attached to Translation Project))

To determine, layout, design, usability, may want to ask and answer, “what elements constitute a successful medieval subjects (poetry) site?”

And/or check out design suggestions such as those included in the following:

Practical Design Suggestions

What elements constitute a successful (M/EM Poetry) site?

  • How far down do you want audience to scroll?
  • What do work do you want images to perform?
  • How can you ensure links always work?
  • Do you need to provide navigation directions?
  • How much information do readers need to transition smoothly from page to page?

To determine features that constitute a successful site, generate some examples. What are some outstanding features of the sites below?

What elements do want to incorporate in your page? For instance, how do you create a usable page?

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Working Examples

Tempest 1.1

Tempest 1.2

Tempest 4.1

Elements of Style: Poem & Page (or translating your translation from paper to WP)

  • Whose the audience for the paper translation? Whose the audience for the digital translation? What’s gained in translation & what’s lost?
  • How does the audience you chose for the translation determine the choices you make, ex: how does your audience determine emphasizing rhyme over meter?
  • In addition, faithfulness versus transparency?
  • How do similar audience concerns influence design choices? What elements should you emphasize?
  • Even though it may seem transparent, what rhetorical gestures does your final layout make?
  • How does theme you selected effect useability, affect, reading of your translation?

Notation: The links you provide act as notation, but you may also want to consider installing a footnote plug-in. I’m using Footnotes by ManFisher, which seems fine. We can review installation and use if you like. Lots of footnote generator plug-ins.

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