I must say, I absolutely loved the digital articles for our readings this month. Usually I do not like newspaper articles (especially from the Ney York Times), but “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” and “A Game of Sharks and Minnows” easily held my interest. While reading these, I thought about the benefits of having students read similar articles. I have found that asking students to read articles, especially those that come from newspapers, can be an extremely difficult task. Aside from the Sports sections, students find the articles monotonous and tiresome. To be honest, I must agree. Maybe it has something to do with the writing being at an eighth-grade level, a lack of interest in the subject, or the absence of visual appeal, but reading the newspaper sometimes feels like a chore. I do it, though, because I like to be up-to-date with the happenings in the community and in the world. As we have been learning throughout college, today’s students need the visual appeal of technology or pictures in order to become involved with readings. The multi-formatted articles “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” and “A Game of Sharks and Minnows” is a creative and engaging way for everyone, especially students, to read news articles.
Both of the articles are extremely long, and it is easy to zone out while reading them. Even though they both have creative style, it does not eliminate the fact that the articles are several pages in length. When I first noticed this, I became irritated and, in a way, shut down from the reading. When I began to notice the addition of clips, and other visual elements, I became engaged and wanted to read the articles. The various visual elements greatly help to break up the length of the articles into manageable chunks.
However, “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” goes into great, and sometimes excruciating, detail about the setting. I found that I zones out at these times. I am one of those people who do not like intense detail in a news article. I think it is more productive and efficient to get straight to the point. This article, though, drones on, and on, and on. It is at these points that the visual designer incorporated pictures and clips to illustrate the text. It felt as if every time my mind began to wander, some new visual element brought me back. I found myself looking forward to what new element was going to pop up.
The same held true for “A Game of Sharks and Minnows.” When I first opened the article, I was greeted with the blaring sound of a boat on the ocean (I had the volume turned up all the way, not knowing that I was about to have audio interaction). After letting out a loud gasp and giving myself a minor heart attack (I’m scared easily), I admired how the text, audio, and visual elements expertly added to the presentation. As with the other article, I found myself zoning out frequently. It went into great detail about various elements, such as the political aspect of fishing, about the are in which they fish, and about the ships. Again, as soon as this happened, I was presented with short clips that accompanied the text. This instantly drew me back in and made me excited to read the next section. I especially liked the section that described how the men fish. The pictures and clips illustrated how the men perform the task. I found myself studying the tools they showed on the chips, which increased my desire to know more about the topic. This is great for visual learners who need to see pictures in order to understand concepts.
Both of these articles are fantastic for students who shy away from reading. It is often hard for English teachers to realize that not every student loves reading as much as we do. The reality is that many people would rather gouge out their eyes than pick up a book or some form or text. This holds especially true for students who are forced to read several texts for various classes within a short time frame. Although it is usually necessary, required reading often takes the enjoyment away from the learning process. Incorporating multimedia text in a classroom can ignite excitement in reluctant readers.
The use of multiple visual elements in the articles creates interest and engagement. Jenny Rue, author of “The ‘Snow Fall’ Effect Dissecting the Multimedia Longform Narrative” says, “While some of these are simple design embellishments, their power lies in the emotional response they trigger as you venture through the story — and I use “venture” intentionally, because this is the feeling that it evokes. Effective design triggers an emotional response which can enhance the story structure.” The design of the article allows students to invest in the story due to its inclusion of pictures, short clips, and other design elements. Students are more likely to enjoy text when it includes these elements because it is a break from the “typical” reading assignment. Also, when students can actually see what is happening in the story, they are more likely to enjoy what they are reading.
Because of the many benefits of multimedia literature, I think it is a great tool for the classroom. It is a great way for students to practice using a variety of tools to create meaning to a piece of writing. Also, it is great for schools who incorporate technologies such as iPads. As “Exploring the Use of iPads for Literacy Learning” explains, students respond well when iPads are incorporated. Although I have not personally looked for apps that allow a person to create multimedia text, I’m sure many exist. This would make multimedia projects a fun and engaging way to increase learning. Students can work in groups to create a multimedia piece for a book they are reading, a topic they are researching, etc. One of the great things about this format is that there are so many topics that students can write about. Then students must use their creativity to utilize pictures, clips, “curtain” effects, etc. to add visual appeal to the text. This engages every kind of learner: the reader, the writer, those who are more visual, and those who work best when using technology. I would love to see the outcome of incorporating a project such as this in the classroom.
Branch, John. “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek.” The New York Times. 19 Feb 2012. Web. 1 Nov 2014.
Greenfield, Rebecca. “The New York Times Fights “Snow Fall” Fatigue With More Snowfalls–and It’s Working.” Fast Company. 25 Oct 2013. Web. 1 Nov 2014.
Himmelman, Jeff. “A Game of Shark and Minnow.” The New York Times. 27 Oct 2013. Web. 1 Nov 2014.
Hutchison, Amy. “Exploring the Use of the iPad for Literacy and Learning.” The Reading Teacher: September 2012. Web. 1 Nov 2014.