This is an assignment first developed by my colleague at IU East, Margaret Evans. She has agreed to let me borrow the assignment for our class, including timeline examples from her students who gave her permission to share them. I have adapted parts of Dr. Evans's original assignment for our purposes, but the framework and most of the details are hers.
This assignment is useful because before we begin a deeper examination of current writing pedagogy, it's a good idea to understand something about the context or contexts through which writing pedagogies developed. To get at these contexts, I am asking you to create a timeline based on our reading and analysis in Module 1: Where We Were.
A good thought to keep in mind comes from the introduction to Exploring Composition Studies, where Kelly Ritter and Paul Kei Matsuda point out that “even in retelling its history, composition studies becomes a tricky entity to narrate in any agreed upon way” (3). This means that attempts to retell the history are open to interpretation, making it possible for any one of us to tell the story of this history in the way that seems fit, using the available evidence to build the case for the validity of the version we tell. Keep this notion about the "historicity" of writing studies in mind as you respond to this assignment. As you do, know that how we choose to tell and retell the “tricky” history of writing instruction and composition studies can shed light on what current pedagogies we value, what we continue to reproduce, and what ideas have been challenged or left behind altogether.
- Create a timeline based on your reading of the articles, chapters, and essays in Module 1. (Note: You may find it helpful to read the set of reading reviews from your classmates that have been posted.) The timeline should communicate important themes about the history of writing instruction, and how efforts to teach writing were reflective of and affected by changes in technologies associated with writing, and in cultural values associated with literacy.
Consider that the timeline will involve a mix of visuals and words, so a decision to make is, what images will I use?
- Keep in mind advice that is freely available on the web about balancing words and images, such as the Making Words Work blog. Keep in mind as well that copyright laws should be honored, as explained in this blog about images in presentations. But, there are places where images can be accessed for free without having to ask for permission. Pixabay is one such place.
Also keep in mind that you are free to be creative with how you present the information in the timeline.
In producing the timeline, use one of several modes of digital presentation to communicate your ideas. For example, you may use PowerPoint, Prezi, a blog, a webpage, a wiki page, or an online program like "Timeline" from Knight Lab. Decide what will be best for you given your comfort level and given the amount of time we have to work in this summer session.
Note that "Timeline" will require having a Google Drive account. To learn how you may access the Google Drive account that IU has already set up for you, click here.
Once you have decided on the mode of presentation, build the presentation so that it conforms to the following assignment requirements:
- Select 12 to 15 items to place on your timeline (all dependent upon the theme or "big idea" you want to communicate).
- You must pick at least one thematic item from each of the readings from Module 1 (except for Baron's "From Pencils to Pixels," though you may use the Baron article as an additional source).
- You need to use outside research to help you articulate the importance of any item; this includes any photographs or other visuals used (the idea here is that you're expected to enhance and supplement the historical accounts from the Module 1 readings).
- You must cite the sources of information you use, including the Module 1 Readings. You may use footnotes or end notes if this will be less intrusive to the document. You should be sure to add an MLA Works Cited page at the end to document the sources you use.
- Be aware of and utilize the concerns of the rhetorical situation: who the audience is, what your communicative purpose is, how you can best use the features of the genre (a digital timeline presentation) to compose and design your presentation
When you are ready, begin creating your Major Project 1 timeline. See what you can come up with and upload what you get started on in the Major Project 1 Draft assignment space by July 11. (Read the directions for what to do there.) In addition, plan to get reader responses to this draft. Follow the directions in the Major Project 1 Draft assignment, which will link to the Major Project 1 Peer Response discussion forum, where the response will be provided.
- Once you draft the timeline and get reader response, complete or finalize the timeline and upload or link to the final version in this assignment space. Be sure to do so by July 15 at 11:59pm. Make sure you don't forget to thoroughly copyedit and proofread! Click here for some general advice and strategies for both.
When you create your presentation, imagine how you might want to share it at a conference as a presentation or at a workshop at your institution with fellow practitioners. These colleagues would be your target audience to keep firmly in mind as you work.
Thoughts to Keep in Mind
There is no right or wrong way to approach this project and no right answer. I am not looking for specific items to be chosen; instead, I am looking for you to fashion this in a way that makes sense to you, given your understanding of the history, of your own background, and of how you would like to use the information. The guiding principle at work here is the decisions you make should make sense to anyone who has encountered these readings and comprehends the history being relayed there, and it should make sense why you are emphasizing what you are emphasizing to an audience of those who may not be familiar with these readings or any of this historical narrative about writing. I will be happy to answer questions about what you are deciding, but I want you to be free to develop your own style with this project as a colleague and a professional.
The "Example Timelines" section below provides examples being made available in case "working from scratch" seems too much, but again, these are not models that I am providing because they are telling you what to do; these are just the ways some previous students approached this assignment, and they suggest what can be possible. We are in a short summer session, so there are limits to what can happen, but within those limits, I want to see what you can do.
Word of Warning
Don’t make this into an overwhelming project. I do not require excessive amounts of detail. You can add audio if you wish and links to other sources to any format. Format, design, and conciseness are key to success. Show me what you learned that seemed crucial to you and have fun creating this.
Steps to Completing the Assignment
- Spend time gathering ideas you can use in your timeline, including any outside sources (such as images and/or media)
Settle on a theme or thematic angle that you would like to use
- Compose a draft that you can share for feedback
- Receive feedback on the draft
- Use the feedback to help you to continue to develop your timeline
Submit the final version of what you produce in this assignment space by July 15 at 11:59pm.
- Chapters covered
- Quantity of items
- Graphical elements
- Resources/Works Cited
In the Files tab (and at this link), you will find the rubric I will use to evaluate and grade this project. Note the descriptors for each of the above categories within the rubric, which indicate what to keep in mind when designing your outline.
When your timeline is finished and ready to submit, click on the "Submit" button to submit your project to this assignment space. (If you need to provide a web address, because for example you have created a wiki or a blog, be sure to do that when you submit.)
This assignment is due before 11:59pm EDT on July 15.