On Break

Macro image of a snowflake

Our staff are taking a well-deserved winter break. We’ll be back the second week in January with a collection of lesson plans for teaching with wearable technology, as well as exciting new posts about sonic rhetorics, student think-alouds, and more. Featured image: “Onward and Upward” by Lady Dragonfly.

Universal Design for Learning: What is it and why should you care?

Clip art showing people with different access needs in sillhouette. Left to right: a person on crutches, a person in a wheelchair, a person with a cane, a person pushing a pram

At the end of this past summer, I was invited to address instructors in the University of TexasDepartment of Rhetoric & Writing (DRW) on the theme of ‘Accessibility’. The invitation arose from some work I’d done for the DRW to make their syllabus boilerplate more accessible — reformatting the existing Word doc with styles to increase navigability, and providing descriptive hyperlinks to web-based references — and reflected a need to better acquaint new instructors with accessibility resources on campus, including within the Digital Writing & Research Lab.

As the talk took place shortly before the start of classes, when instructors were doing last-minute preparation for their fall courses, I elected to speak on Universal Design for Learning, arguing that instructors and students alike are best served when instructors build affordances for diverse learners into their curricula from the outset, rather than adapting only as required by institutional and legal structures. Behind the cut, you’ll find information about the need for universal design, and resources and strategies for universal design in your own classroom.

Read moreUniversal Design for Learning: What is it and why should you care?

Cool Tools: Piktochart

Cropped screenshot from Making a Persuasive Infographic, header only

Have you thought about incorporating infographics into your classroom? Here at UT, the first year writing curriculum now includes an infographic assignment in which students are asked to remix their final persuasive essay into a visual form. The Digital Writing & Research Lab has been collaborating with the Department of Rhetoric & Writing to create an assignment prompt and tool recommendations, and given that it’s syllabus creation time around the country, we thought we’d share one of those resources with you.

Read moreCool Tools: Piktochart

Is a Listicle Better than an Essay?

[x_text]Dusty Hixenbaugh teaches the Rhetoric of Country Music in the DWRL, asking his students to contribute to the Country Music Project as they examine ‘the arguments that have been made about country music and through the conventions of country music over the genre’s nearly hundred-year history’. Here, he talks about assigning his students to write a a Buzzfeed article.[/x_text]
Dusty Hixenbaugh - headshot

Read moreIs a Listicle Better than an Essay?

Assignment Spotlight: TimeMapper

[x_text]When the DWRL staff started talking about preparing digital lesson plans for new instructors teaching first year composition in our classrooms, one of the first tools we settled on was TimeMapper. This free and open-source tool allows individuals and classes to quickly and easily build timemaps: timelines with associated geodata, in which every data point is mapped to both its temporal and physical location. It’s fun and accessible, and it builds on the DWRL’s long history of research in locative media, including our past GeoEverything project. And it’s already proving a success in our classrooms.

Read moreAssignment Spotlight: TimeMapper

“Accessibility: DWRL & Beyond”

Today at noon, DWRL alumna Stephanie Rosen, Accessibility Specialist at the University of Michigan Libraries, is hosting a workshop on accessibility and digital media. Join us in FAC 9,  tune in remotely via the Google Hangout, or follow along with our tweets. The handouts and reference material for the workshop are available in this Google … Read more