Multimodal Mondays: Flipping the Script on Reflection and Invention Memos

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Bohannon_Pic.jpgToday’s guest blogger is Jeanne Bohannon (see end of post for bio).

This semester has been all about comfort zones for me and for my student-scholars, both in how we connect with diverse audiences and also how we participate in my own writing. We have written about archival research assignments and collaborated on public writing opportunities. As our final act of semester-long partnership, we brainstormed a low-stakes reflection assignment—a memo—that we felt could encourage invention and ownership of any democratic learning space. We offer this assignment as easy, do-able composition across different degrees of critical, multimodal learning from technical and business writing to visual representations—perfect for the end of a semester.

Context for Working Assignment
My students and I practice recursive, democratic learning, so for us that means the some writing assignments, prompts, and topics move between courses and grow from semester to semester. Our model of learning works well with community writing and service learning concepts, which are both also vital parts of discovery.  The reflective memo assignment is a means for current student-scholars who have worked on specific initiatives to influence how these community writing exemplars will develop and be cultivated by future writers.  No matter how you arrange your assignments throughout the matter what form these assignments take for you...there is room in the reflective memo to provide you with useful feedback for further innovation and to allow your students to gain stakeholder rights over the work they have completed in your class.

Measurable Learning Objectives for the Assignment

  • Practice reflection strategies for one's own writing and engagement
  • Synthesize content-meaning through collaborative review
  • Create texts for a specific audience and invention heuristic

Background Reading for Students and Instructors
Acts of reading and viewing visual texts are ongoing processes for attaining learning goals in dialogic, digital writing assignments. Below, I have listed a few foundational texts. You will no doubt have your own to enrich this list.

In-Class/Out-of-Class Work

A great feature of the reflective memo is that it can take limitless forms, adapting to each instructor's rhetorical focus. Students can use free apps such as Piktochart to create visual memos or post their work on public blogs or wikis. This assignment can also be as simple as posting memos in LaunchPad or another LMS for later PDF-ing and distribution to future classes.  My student-scholars have even offered to come to a future class as guest lecturers, to narrate their experiences in person.  The basic guidelines, designed by my student-scholars, are here.  Please feel free to do what Andrea calls "annotate and detonate" the guidelines below:

  • Parameters: 500+ words and at least one multimodal element of your choice (audio/image/hyperlink/video)
  • Craft a brief reflection of your experience with the writing assignment, answering questions like "How did I engage with the assignment? What could I improve on? What did I succeed with? Why did I make choices?"
  • Provide a list of 3-5 bulleted feedback points for how your instructor could improve or innovate the assignment.
  • Give two pieces of advice for future student-writers on how to successfully work through the re/mixed assignment(s).
  • If you want your work shown to future students and the opportunity to guest lecture in a future class, give your instructor permission in writing!

Reflections on the Assignment – Students
Except from a memo:

"Please take care of our hard work as we are passing it on to you now. I will admit that when I started this project, I wasn’t 100% thrilled about doing it, but out of all of the options that were given to us for our collaborative work this seemed like the best option. However, as we continued to research and write about our findings, I became attached to the work and genuinely wanted it to succeed. Continue what we started and give it your best. Who knows, maybe you’ll actually enjoy it!" -- Samantha Crovatt, Technical Communications Major.

My Reflection
I am always excited to take Andrea's idea of "writing to the world" and collaborate with student-writers to give them voice and choice in their own compositions and the writing of future scholars to come.  The reflective memo assignment counts for me in terms of multimodal composition because it provides a digital record of students' rhetorical reflections on their own invention and serves as an electronic invention heuristic for others to cultivate as they embark on their writing excursions.

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Jeanne Law Bohannon is an Assistant Professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Kennesaw State University. She believes in creating democratic learning spaces, where students become stakeholders in their own rhetorical growth though authentic engagement in class communities. Her research interests include evaluating digital literacies and critical engagement pedagogies; performing feminist rhetorical recoveries; and growing informed and empowered student scholars. Reach Jeanne at: and

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.