This I Believe

This I Believe

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Difficulty: 4  (1 = easy, 5 = hard)

This Make was created by Stephanie West-Puckett



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Based on the popular NPR radio series, make a multi-modal “This I Believe” text that illustrates a strongly held belief. Your “belief” should be fresh and interesting, complex and unexpected. It should make your audience think deeply and differently about the topic you have chosen to explore. You’ll want to carefully consider your audience(s), your purpose(s), strategies, and the medium of your final product– will you produce a podcast that allows your audience to hear your voice and brings in the cannon of delivery? A photo-essay that blends words and still images? A digital story that includes a voice over and still images? A video-recorded performance? A Prezi? Voicethread?

Step One: Listen to, watch, or read and analyze a few Mentor Texts. You’ll want to spend some time on the NPR This I Believe website listening to essays that catch your attention. Perhaps you’ll want to create a playlist of your favorites to share. What makes these work? What are the conventions of a This I Believe Essay or what makes a “This I Believe Essay” a “This I Believe Essay” (other than the obvious “I Believe In…”)? You’ll want to think about length, purpose, audience, tone, organization, the ways the author develops his/ her beliefs, word choice, clarity, focus, etc.

Step Two: Check out some mentor texts in different mediums. Then ask yourself, what else do writers have to think about when using images, video, combining voice with text and/ or images? Where in these multi-modal texts is this combination done well? Where do they fall short? What can authors accomplish in these mediums that couldn’t be accomplished with words or voice alone? What is lost? Which work for you and which don’t? Why?

Step Three: Plan Out Your Own Composition. You might find this design plan useful to help you think through the choices.

What’s your working title?
What’s the purpose of your composition– what do you want it to accomplish (be specific)?
Who’s your audience– what are their needs, interests, positions, & how will your digital story address them?
What medium are you working in? Are you going to produce a website with a voice recording and pictures? A Prezi with audio and images or video? A VoiceThread? Why will that medium work for your audience and your purpose?
Project Planning–for the alphabetic text (narrative), will you write out a full script, work from storyboards, free-form into the microphone? How will you record your voice?
What kinds of visuals do you need? Drawings, Pictures, Video? Sketches? Do you already have these materials? If not, how and when will you get them? Will you add music to create mood? Will you write and perform your own? What tracks might you sample? What software will you need to use?
What technical difficulties might you face? What legal or ethical concerns do you need to consider?
What support do you need? Where can you find that support?

Here’s a great list of tools from my colleague Troy Hicks. You’ll likely want to focus down the list in the “Crafting Web-Based Texts”, “Presentations”, “Crafting Audio”, “Crafting Video” and “Social Networking Tools”. Most of these tools have great tutorials to help you use the software. If you get stuck, use resources at your school, after school, or community center. You can also find online groups and communities that can help you problem-solve.

Step Four: Get Feedback from a peer, an instructor, or a mentor. Tips for working successfully in writing groups are available here (http://makercomp.wordpress.com/writing-groups/). Revise your design plan once you’ve shared.

Step Five: Draft your composition.

Step Six: Get Feedback from a peer, an instructor, or a mentor. Revise your draft so that it better meets your goals and vision. Involve as many people as you can in the review process, and revise until you are satisfied (or until the deadline:)

Step Seven: Share and Reflect. Use the Writer’s Memo questions available here to support reflection. Celebrate your work!


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2 Examples Completed for this Make

  1. Student "This I Believe" Essay and Video
       submitted by Mallory McNeal

    This video from a senior in high school couples her “This I Believe” essay with visual words and images.

  2. Student "This I Believe" Blog Post
       submitted by Mallory McNeal

    A high school student’s “This I Believe” blog post

1 Tutorial Created for this Make

  1. Make a “This I Believe” with the NWP
       submitted by Mallory McNeal

    Christina Cantrill and Stephanie West-Puckett explain how to create a multi-modal “This I Believe” text in Popcorn that illustrates a strongly held belief.

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This work by Stephanie West-Puckett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.