Lesson 4.1: What role do media craft techniques play in digital writing?

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Objective

  • To identify and analyze craft techniques in digital writing.

Activate Prior Knowledge

Abubble2.png What writing craft techniques do you teach your students? Why is it important to analyze author's craft? What different kinds of techniques do you think are needed when creating digital texts?

Explore

Take a closer look at this chart from Crafting Digital Writing by Troy Hicks, thinking about the role of author's craft in digital writing.

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Questions for Reflection:

  • Do you specifically teach students how to use these techniques?
  • Is it worth it to spend time teaching these techniques? Why or why not?
  • How could learning about, analyzing, and using these techniques develop critical thinking skills and creativity in our students? How could they enhance the content we teach?


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This Digital Writing 101 Blog features a selection of student digital writing samples. Choose one to examine closely with author's craft in mind:

  • What do you think of this style of digital writing?
  • Which techniques from the chart above were used in the example you looked at?
  • What deliberate craft choices did the creator have to make, and how do those choices enhance the meaning of the piece?


Take a look at some sample rubrics that incorporate media techniques and design elements.

  • Which media skills are being emphasized?
  • How are media techniques balanced with traditional writing expectations?
  • How are students being asked to demonstrate their proficiency with media craft/design?


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Mini-Lecture

The first step towards incorporating media craft into your instruction is taking it seriously- feeling like it has value and is worth your time. Thinking about when to use a hyperlink vs. not, which image to add where, how to format a Google Slide or organize a Jamboard to achieve your purpose, how to edit a video to include smooth transitions and the most important information, where to include an interview vs a chart... these are all decisions digital writers must make deliberately and purposefully; they require as much thought and are as important to the creative process as determining which word choice to use where or how to better convey an idea through a simile vs a metaphor.

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I often hear teachers say they don't have time to work on media craft skills, or kids should learn those things in the earlier grades, or letting them put in pictures lowers the quality of work, or doing an assignment in Slides just makes it easier and more fun. But think about how many texts we encounter in the "real" world that don't include multimedia elements, and then consider what role design plays in making those texts accessible, professional, and engaging. We probably don't even think about it most of the time, but multimedia design is all around us and woven into the fabric of almost everything we interact with professionally and for entertainment.

As you develop your final project, I encourage you to not only identify particular media craft techniques you will address but also to include those skills on the task rubric. We need to hold ourselves accountable for actually teaching media techniques, and we need students to know that these skills are valued. They should know at the beginning of a project which techniques they will be responsible for learning and demonstrating in the final product. And we should discuss these techniques throughout the work process, teaching them explicitly, exploring exemplars, and providing feedback to foster student growth.

Deepen Your Understanding

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Now that you have completed lesson 1, revisit your understanding of the learning target. Consider what new understandings you now have, and develop your initial understandings based on the lesson materials.

What author's craft techniques are unique to digital writing? Why is it important to teach students how to analyze digital writing techniques and attend to media craft in their own digital writing?

References and Resources

Hicks, T. (2013). Crafting digital writing: Composing texts across media and genres. Heinemann.


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