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Faced with an environment in which the written mode is stressed and upheld, these students struggle to express themselves within the linear expectations of a print culture. Ball, in her 1996 paper on the Expository Writing Patterns of African American Students, writes that like many other diverse students, African American students bring rich resources to the classroom in the form of orally based text design patterns, the inclusion of audiences in their writings, and their ability to draw on culturally-based idioms and expressions and personal anecdotes to enrich their work.
Whether students are composing a script specifically for this project or transmediating a written essay or report into an audio composition, their drafts should not exceed 500 words.
See the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for Speaking and Listening for guidance on the content, reasoning, point of view and tone.
The stories we tell take on new meaning when we tell them in our own voices.
As a culminating project in a unit of study devoted to reading, writing, rhetoric, or inquiry, or as part of a unit on speaking and listening, challenge students to produce an audio composition.
It seems as though a change in medium has a beneficial impact on the way some students conceptualize and produce work.
Also, using the essay in a course that largely stresses written language skills, I find, leads to an understanding and appreciation of the much-neglected oral aspect of language. While writing is relatively new (most sources put the invention of writing down to around 3500 BC), we have had spoken languages for millions of years.
My students script their essays keeping in mind that they will be submitting their essays in an audio-visual format.
I have found that this project has a profound impact on how the students compose their essays.
The oral aspect of the essay changes their writing and presentation skills in subtle, but positive ways.
Students who hitherto struggled with putting their thoughts down on paper, on blogs, or on websites, magically produce well-crafted, creative, impressive audio-visual projects.