In Toward a Composition Made Whole, Shipka (2011) defines a composition made whole as being “concerned with attending to the ways in which individuals work with, as well as against, the mediational means they employ in the hopes that this, in turn, will help empower individuals to choose wisely, critically, and purposefully the relationships, structures, and representational systems that are most fitting or appropriate given the purposes, potentials, and contexts of one’s work” (149). What I found particularly interesting (and reassuring) with Shipka’s work is the focus on her mediated-action framework. While Multiliteracies and Yancey’s work mention remediation of texts, Shipka seems to first focus on the mediating of texts and other multimodal representations of student work.
Shipka seems to do an adequate job explaining how one would go about assessing such multimodal composition projects. Assessment (and grading) is an issue that came up in our first class meeting, I think, after reading NCTE’s Position Statement about Multimodal Literacies. We discussed the difficulty of focusing on how to grade these projects and whether that should be our focus, or even a consideration. I appreciate the distinction that Shipka makes about the shift in responsibility from teacher to student with it being the student’s responsibility to demonstrate learning. Shipka, citing Beach (1989) argues, “students who are required to produce ‘precisely defined goal statements’ for their work become increasingly cognizant of how texts are comprised of a series of rhetorical, technological, methodological ‘moves’ that, taken together, simultaneously afford and constrain potentials for engaging with those texts” (p. 112). Shipka introduces her approach to the assessment piece with the statement of goals and choices (SOGC) and makes a distinction between that and generic reflective writing. It’s interesting that the SOGC can be as long as twenty pages to explain what one student does for a project that probably did not take as long as it took to write the SOGC. I would also add that building a relationship with students in the classroom would aid a teacher in assessing whether a student had achieved what he or she sought, or is capable of.
After reading Multiliteracies and Toward a Composition Made Whole, I was excited about the approach to writing courses as communication courses with the integration of multimodal composing, but I keep coming back to the question of practicality and applicability to a high school English classroom, and to a researchable topic. I don’t presume to know much about a college composition instructor’s freedom in crafting a syllabus, but I am definitely constrained by what I can teach and how I can teach it, but also when I can teach it. This is at the heart of what I want to research for my dissertation. How can I do both? What Shipka, and the New London Group, seem to be advocating for is a “retooling” of the traditional composition classroom (I insert “high school English classroom” for “composition classroom” here), but “retooling” as Shipka sees it does not, on the outset, seem to be very feasible for me.