Adaptation Approach 1.0

 

The Adaptation Approach as I have named it centers upon:

 

  1. Utilizing the creation of Graphic Narratives and other forms of Visual Rhetoric to communicate concepts, ideas, etc. found in the Composition classroom

 

This approach has been something under thought and gradual process for several years now. Originally it was born out of a desire to convey or get across to my students the genres I was having them write about, in both Comp 1 and 2, out the St. Martin’s Guide to Writing during my PhD studies at TWU.

 

Initially I wanted to partner up with an artist, such as my friend Dave Andrews, but I dragged my feet on writing the scripts. The project eventually took a back burner to my dissertation.

 

However, I have now been looking to revive this project and apply my own artistic skills (dust them off from my high school days) and take it on both as an aid to students and as part of an overall visual rhetoric approach to the First Year Composition classroom that more or less defines part of my pedagological identity.

 

So, to get started, I made myself a “big board” of ideas, concepts, and assignments I really felt should be illustrated in order to help assist my students.

 

Here is what I came up with, for a start:

 

IMG_3729

 

The left hand column covers material for my Comp 1 (1301) course while the right hand column covers information and material for my Comp 2 (1302) course. The material boxed at the bottom covers concepts and material relevant to BOTH courses.

 

Of course, this list is only a start.

 

Visually Re-think: The Graphic Narrative and the Research Based Composition Classroom

So, there are TWO ways I am using to approaching the idea of the Graphic Narrative (or as Scott McCloud might refer to it, Graphic Fiction) in the classroom:

 

  1. Directly teaching and using Graphic Narratives such as Graphic Novels in the Composition Classroom

 

  1. Utilizing the creation of Graphic Narratives and other forms of Visual Rhetoric to communicate concepts, ideas, etc. found in the Composition classroom

 

I am currently applying both of these approaches.

 

Interestingly I have come to realize that when examining both of these approaches, there appears to exist interlinked but distinct aspects. Approach 1 is perhaps the more surface level, generic (emerging) approach often used in the classroom. Approach 2 represents a more conceptual synthesis of the form, the Graphic Narratives, in applying them less as texts and artifacts to be explored, analyzed, and evaluated, and instead applying the form directly to the interpretation and synthesis of information for student consumption within the teaching process itself.

 

Both do share the fact that they are and represent an ongoing, evolution approach in the classroom instruction.

 

To help differentiate the fact that I plan to post and discuss both approaches I have given here (both are ongoing) at different points and at varying times, it probably behooves me to name these two approaches to help. So, I will call Approach 1, the direct use and discussion of graphic novels in the composition classroom The Application Approach. Approach 2 I will rename here, the one about applying graphic narratives as adaptation of genres, assignments, and concepts, and refer to it as The Adaptation Approach.

Looking to Re-Think How I Teach Composition, Part 2 – Specific Course Design

SPECIFIC COURSE DESIGN

The use of graphic novels in the classroom, particularly the English, Literature, and Writing classroom, is an ongoing and developing trend, particularly at the college/university level.

This is not without pushback, however, there is “good” or relevant pushback and there is just “poor” pushback.

A good, recent example of “poor” pushback emerged recently from Crafton Hills College in California. Apparently, and “According to the Redlands Daily Facts newspaper, Tara Shultz and her parents object to Persepolis, Fun Home, Y: The Last ManVol. 1, and The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll’s House as “pornography” and “garbage” (Williams). What is odd about this is that there argument is not a strong one as tall. In fact, when one takes into account the professor of the classes response, this becomes a bit clearer. Bartlett responded to an email via the Redlands Daily Facts and provided his reasoning:

“I chose several highly acclaimed, award-winning graphic novels in my English 250 course not because they are purportedly racy but because each speaks to the struggles of the human condition. As Faulkner states, ‘The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.’ The same may be said about reading literature. The characters in the chosen graphic novels are all struggling with issues of morality, self discovery, heartbreak, etc. The course in question has also been supported by the faculty, administration and approved by the board.” (Williams)

When one considers Shultz’s response to Bartlett’s, it appears that something does not match up here. Williams article points out that Shultz’s side and reasoning, noting that she

…is working towards an Associate of Arts in English at the public community college, signed up for English 250: Fiction because it fulfills one part of her degree requirements. She was apparently aware that the specific focus of the class was graphic novels, but she told the newspaper that “I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography.” Shultz says that Associate Professor Ryan Bartlett, who has taught the course for three terms without any other complaints, failed to adequately warn students about the books’ content. Her father Greg Shultz said that “if they (had) put a disclaimer on this, we wouldn’t have taken the course.” Tara Shultz agreed, saying that Bartlett “should have stood up the first day of class and warned us.” (Williams)

However, this is not the whole story. Not only may some, including myself, find her statement “I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography” a profound display of ignorance, but apparently, her real aim was a “blow off” class. Consider this information to help clarify:

Of course, Shultz and her parents did have complete information about which books would be covered in the class–the school requires instructors (p. 20) to distribute a detailed syllabus on the first day of the term–and ample time to withdraw with no effect on her grade. Fourteen other courses offered at Crafton Hills fulfill the same degree requirement as English 250. The college’s online calendar shows that the Spring semester began on January 12, and the last date to drop a course with no grade penalty was January 30. Shultz apparently brought up her objections to four out of ten books covered in the class after that date, when her only options were to complete the assigned work or withdraw with a 0. (Williams)

So, what about this, what is the point? Well, the point is that Shultz demonstrated a poor ability to argue. If she wanted to convince me or anyone (truly) that those graphic novels in the course were “pornography” or “trash” she should have perhaps made a more informed, nuance, and critically thought out approach. So, I want my students to do something better. I want them to make better arguments. So, this is where I make my move.

I want to have my students approach this and make an argument for/against the inclusion of graphic novels in the classroom. Are they pornography or trash? Are they literature? I want to let them make a case and argue it in an “informed, nuance, and critically thought out” manner.

To this end I am attempting to build up a potential “reading” list of sorts to help guide students to a wide selection of graphic novels, with synopsis and disclaimers, to help them engage with the material with guidance.

My attempt is to implement this in a composition 2 classroom in order to facilitate real, critical and argumentative debate on the topic.

Works Cited

Williams, Maren. “College Student Wants Four Graphic Novels ‘Eradicated from the System.”

CBLDF.org. Comic Book League Defense Fund. 13 June 2015. Web. 30 June 2015.

Looking to Re-Think How I Teach Composition, Part 1 – Overview and Introduction

So, I recently decided that I needed to revamp my approach to teaching Comp 1 and 2. I have been on this trajectory for some time, working out some ideas, but now I think I have come across how I want to proceed. Part of this has been on my mind for a while, but after listening to the audiobook version of Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica, I really took some time to reflect upon my method and approach and asked myself the question: Could I do more? This question is something I really intend to try and answer with regards to how I teach Comp 2. In general though, I want to do more.

For one, I am working on for clearly communicating the material in the course, particularly via visual and auditory processes. Still, I wanted to try to more than even that.

So, to begin, perhaps it would be good to reflect on how I perceive and approach teaching Comp 1 and 2 as I teach now:

Composition 1:

For me this remains an introduction to college writing for students. Whether I am utilizing the Norton’s Field Guide or St. Martin’s Guide to Writing textbook, the approach is one that utilizes the “genre” approach to writing.

This entails me walking students through the writing process and MLA formatting through typically genres such as Literacy Narrative, Article Analysis, Reporting Information, and Arguing a Position (Norton’s approach, which I primarily use now).

Changes I want to make to Comp 1 instruction falls heavily on developing more resources, continued development of helping students see the process and connections, and implementation of visual diagrams and graphic narratives.

Composition 2:

This is where I lead students from the Arguing a Position paper of Composition 1 into an expanded version via a larger Research Paper.

It is here in Composition 2 that I am wanting to work on “redefining” my process and approach. I want to provide students with options here, to reach out to their strengths (and perhaps passions) and try to engage them on multiple levels.

To do this, I am in the process of attempting ONE specific course design that I really want to try out at least once, but the process of that course design will represent a traditional approach to a form that I want to develop as something as part of my overall Comp 2 redesign.

Let me start with the specific course design I want to try out (as part of a bit of social commentary) and then move on to the outcomes and standards I hope to utilize in a fresh (at least for me) re-imagining of my Comp 2 class approach.

I will address these in the following postings.