Paying Attention

Designing presentations–PowerPoint, Prezi, Capzles, Easel.ly–is practice for close reading, isn’t it?

As students design presentations for an audience of their peers, they are motivated to pay attention to all of the details.  Each choice they make–fonts, colors, words, images, and placement of everything–is intentional.

What will look the best? What matches my purpose? What has the most emotional impact?

I present students with principles of effective design, and after viewing a few examples of “good” and “bad” design, they begin applying the principles to their work. There’s no convincing them that these principles matter; they see the evidence in the examples, and they see the positive change in their presentations when they begin designing like a designer.

This is the same intention I want students to notice when close reading. Students are reluctant to acknowledge the impact an author’s craft has on our comprehension and reaction to literature.

Words, punctuation, structure, and the way these work together to create images, convey attitudes, and ultimately transmit purposes are less easily seen then the clash of a font color with a background color, or the ill-placement of an image.

However, if students can orchestrate words and images with intention, then noticing it in the books they read should be a little easier.

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2 thoughts on “Paying Attention

  1. Thanks, Gerard, for sharing your thinking on this.

    Your point that “if students can orchestrate words and images with intention, then noticing it in the books they read should be a little easier” definitely makes sense to me. In what ways do you help students slow down so they can “orchestrate” rather than just rush through?

    Troy

    • Troy, thanks for the feedback.

      As you suggest in Crafting Digital Writing, I provide students with models, and model my own process.

      Students seem “awakened” to the the power of small, intentional changes in design when they observe the visual impact resulting from their revisions and edits. They begin discussing choices with each other, and become critical (yet, well-intentioned) of each others’ work in a new way.

      Students’ careful attention seems to be the result of authentic, dare I say fun, tasks. When they work on a self-selected topic in a self-selected medium, with the knowledge that they’ll share their work with peers, patience and focus materialize where once there may have been less.

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