Amicucci’s Week #4 prompt rang extra significant to me; we’ve discussed throughout this term how important the human element is within basic writing and writing instruction generally. This prompt provides students a space to talk back, to reflect on their own concerns, shortcomings, and personal circumstances that inevitably affect their in-class personas and student habits. The call for students to specifically discuss how they’re “adapting” is a smart choice of words: both the verb tense (-ing) and the vocabulary itself underscore the ongoingness of this process. Student isn’t an identity most basic writers feel comfortable in overnight, and by explicitly addressing students’ lives and schedules, Amicucci holds space for her students to explore their newfound identities.
In my own class, I’ve made an effort to incorporate personal elements and an ethos of openness; in my own undergraduate experience, it felt like we were often expected to check our baggage at the classroom door, that nothing we came in with a priori was worthwhile inside of the institution. Even for me, toting around my white educated middle-class privilege, I felt super othered and invisible when my multiplicities weren’t embraced by the educational culture I strove to fit into. My feedback to this question in particular would likely mirror the tone of the writer; Amicucci smartly invites students to view this prompt as open: “You may choose to write something more personal, or you may choose to think and write about your academic schedule. This is your chance to use the blog to think critically about your life.” I’d strive to cultivate the level of honesty that I hope to see in these private blogs in my responses to them. I might also couple this assignment with a team scavenger hunt, including visits to the writing center, research desk (library), computer/print labs, accessibility office, etc., depending on the needs of the students.
Amicucci’s Week #7 prompt focuses on engaging with video texts, specifically commericals. This call for multimodality was echoed by many scholars we read this term, as was the focus on critical reading skills as integral to developing as a writer. For Amicucci (and me), “reading” is not limited to alphabetic text, not to static images. This prompt sets a high bar of observation and analysis for students: explicating bias and rhetoric strategies in forms of media they’ve interacted with almost daily since a young age might be intimidating for some introductory-level writers, but these skills are readily applicable to real-world contexts. The reflective element mirrors a reader-response approach; students are tasked with arguing whether or not the commercial they choose “works” to actually sell them the product in question. Amicucci dives deeper: “what else is the commercial ‘selling’? Does the commercial seem to advertise or place value on qualities of life other than the actual product at hand? How is it promoting these qualities?”
This reflection asks students to move outside of themselves and into the realm of critical thinking. Commercials are products of particular cultural contexts, and depending on students’ backgrounds, they may choose a commercial outside of the contexts of their classmates or even of their instructor. This could open the door for some fruitful in-class discussions; if I were to use this prompt, I might have students present their writing and their chosen commercial along with a handful of possible discussion points/questions in a full-class discussion. I don’t know that I would provide much in the way of written feedback for this assignment; I really view this as a rich opportunity for a conversation on rhetorical strategies in visual texts. This would of course require a base knowledge of rhetorical terms and approaches. It could be fun to play a fill-in-the-blank sort of game with each commercial: who’s the audience here? what’s the specific purpose? does the text utilize ethos/pathos/logos? etc.